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Defined benefit or defined contribution?: an empirical study of pension choices

  • Joao F. Cocco
  • Paula Lopes
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    We empirically study individual pension choice between two different defined benefit (DB) plans and a defined contribution (DC) plan. The DB plans differ in their contribution rates and in the way retirement benefits are calculated, as a proportion of final salary or as a proportion of lifetime earnings. We relate labor income characteristics to the choice of pension plan. Among other determinants of pension choice, we find that: (i) individuals who face higher income growth are more likely to choose DB final salary plans, and less likely to choose the DC plan; (ii) individuals who face higher earnings volatility are less likely to choose DB final salary plans; (iii) individuals with higher earnings are more likely to choose either the DC or the DB final salary plan. These results constitute evidence of self selection of individuals into different pension plans, an important issue for pension fund providers and for those involved in pension reform.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/24751/
    File Function: Open access version.
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    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 24751.

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    Length: 55 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:24751
    Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
    Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
    Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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    1. Juan C. Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 1999. "Social Security Reform with Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(4), pages 757-795, October.
    2. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
    3. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi88-1, December.
    4. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Introduction to "Pensions in the U.S. Economy"," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 1-8 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Dirk Krueger & Felix Kubler, 2002. "Intergenerational Risk-Sharing via Social Security when Financial Markets Are Incomplete," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 407-410, May.
    6. Huggett, Mark & Ventura, Gustavo, 2000. "Understanding why high income households save more than low income households," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 361-397, April.
    7. Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1996. "Social Security Privatization: A Structure for Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Christopher D Carroll, 1990. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," Economics Working Paper Archive 371, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Aug 1996.
    9. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-96, March.
    10. Orazio P. Attanasio & Susann Rohwedder, 2003. "Pension Wealth and Household Saving: Evidence from Pension Reforms in the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1499-1521, December.
    11. Robert J. Shiller, 2003. "Social Security and Individual Accounts as Elements of Overall Risk-Sharing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 343-347, May.
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