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Pensions, social security, and the distribution of wealth

  • Arthur B. Kennickell
  • Annika E. Sunden
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    This paper uses the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) to examine pension coverage, estimate Social Security and pension wealth for U.S. households in 1989 and 1992, and estimate the effects of pension wealth on non-pension net worth. As expected, the SCF data show that including pensions and Social Security in net worth makes the distribution more even. The analysis of the effects of pension wealth on other types of savings indicates that there is a negative effect of defined benefit plan coverage on non-pension net worth. Surprisingly, the effect of defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans is insignificant.

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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 1997-55.

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    Date of creation: 1997
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1997-55
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    1. Munnell, Alicia H, 1976. "Private Pensions and Saving: New Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(5), pages 1013-32, October.
    2. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1994. "The importance of precautionary motives in explaining individual and aggregate saving," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 59-125, June.
    3. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1996. "The Wealth of Cohorts: Retirement Saving and the Changing Assets of Older Americans," NBER Working Papers 5609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
    5. Shefrin, Hersh M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "The Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 609-43, October.
    6. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1987. "Worker Knowledge of Pension Provisions," NBER Working Papers 2414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Gary S. Fields & Olivia S. Mitchell, 1984. "Retirement, Pensions, and Social Security," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262060914, June.
    8. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Andrew A. Samwick & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1997. "Pension and Social Security Wealth in the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 5912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Kathleen McGarry & Andrew Davenport, 1997. "Pensions and the Distribution of Wealth," NBER Working Papers 6171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-26, Sept./Oct.
    11. Ann A. McDermed & Robert L. Clark & Steven G. Allen, 1987. "Pension Wealth, Age-Wealth Profiles and the Distribution of Net Worth," NBER Working Papers 2439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1996. "How Retirement Saving Programs Increase Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 91-112, Fall.
    13. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Illusory Effects of Saving Incentives on Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 113-138, Fall.
    14. Dicks-Mireaux, Louis & King, Mervyn, 1984. "Pension wealth and household savings: Tests of robustness," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 115-139.
    15. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1990. "Bridge Jobs and Partial Retirement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 482-501, October.
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