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Explaining the evolution of pension structure and job tenure

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  • Leora Friedberg
  • Michael T. Owyang

Abstract

Average and expected job tenure of workers has fallen significantly over the last two decades. Workers have also experienced a major shift in pension coverage. Traditional defined benefit pensions, designed to reward long tenure, have become steadily less common, while defined contribution pensions, which are largely portable, have spread. The link between job tenure and pension trends has not been closely examined, but it offers insights about both phenomena. This paper uses a contract-theoretic matching model with moral hazard to explain changes in both pension structure and job tenure; we discuss how a richer model with job-specific human capital subject to technology shocks would yield similar results. In our model, a decline in the value of existing jobs relative to new jobs reduces expected match duration and thus the appeal of DB pensions. We argue that these trends are linked to changes in the nature of new technologies. This explanation is consistent with observed trends in technological change, tenure, and pension structure. Our results suggest an additional consequence of technological progress that has not been closely studied.

Suggested Citation

  • Leora Friedberg & Michael T. Owyang, 2004. "Explaining the evolution of pension structure and job tenure," Working Papers 2002-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2002-022
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    Cited by:

    1. Kandice Kapinos, 2009. "On the Determinants of Defined Benefit Pension Plan Conversions," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, vol. 30(2), pages 149-167, June.
    2. Leora Friedberg & Michael T. Owyang, 2004. "Explaining the evolution of pension structure and job tenure," Working Papers 2002-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    3. Kandice Kapinos, 2012. "Changes in Firm Pension Policy: Trends Away from Traditional Defined Benefit Plans," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 91-103, March.
    4. Fred Robert-Nicoud (University of Geneva) & Niko Matouschek & Paolo Ramezzana (University of Virginia), 2004. "Labor Market Frictions, Job Insecurity and the Flexibility of the Employment Relationship," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 52, Econometric Society.
    5. Cory Koedel & Michael Podgursky & Shishan Shi, 2013. "Teacher Pension Systems, the Composition of the Teaching Workforce, and Teacher Quality," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(3), pages 574-596, June.
    6. Nicole Maestas & Julie Zissimopoulos, 2010. "How Longer Work Lives Ease the Crunch of Population Aging," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 139-160.
    7. Joshua Rauh & Irina Stefanescu & Stephen Zeldes, 2013. "Cost shifting and the freezing of corporate pension plans," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-82, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 2013.
    8. Kandice Kapinos, 2011. "Changes in Firm Pension Policy: Trends Away from Traditional Defined Benefit Plans," Working Papers 11-36, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    9. Niko Matouschek & Paolo Ramezzana, 2004. "Labor Market Frictions, Job Insecurity, and the Flexibility of the Employment Relationship," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 28, Econometric Society.
    10. Leora Friedberg & Anthony Webb, 2005. "Retirement and the Evolution of Pension Structure," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
    11. Kandice Kapinos, 2009. "On the Determinants of Defined Benefit Pension Plan Conversions," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 149-167, June.
    12. Friedberg Leora & Owyang Michael T & Sinclair Tara M, 2006. "Searching For Better Prospects: Endogenizing Falling Job Tenure and Private Pension Coverage," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-42, August.
    13. Christian E. Weller, 2011. "What Does the Literature Tell Us About the Possible Effect of Changing Retirement Benefits on Public Employee Effectiveness?," Working Papers wp270, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    14. Ann Huff Stevens, 2005. "The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same: Trends in Long-term Employment in the United States, 1969-2002," NBER Working Papers 11878, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Vafeas, Nikos & Vlittis, Adamos, 2018. "Independent directors and defined benefit pension plan freezes," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 505-518.
    16. Alicia H. Munnell & Kelly Haverstick & Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, 2006. "Job Tenure and Pension Coverage," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2006-18, Center for Retirement Research, revised Oct 2006.
    17. Leora Friedberg & Wei Sun & Anthony Webb, 2008. "What Effect Do Time Constraints Have on the Age of Retirement?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2008-17, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2008.
    18. Alicia H. Munnell & Dan Muldoon & Steven A. Sass, 2009. "Recessions and Older Workers," Issues in Brief ib2009-9-2, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jan 2009.
    19. Joshua D. Rauh & Irina Stefanescu & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2020. "Cost Saving and the Freezing of Corporate Pension Plans," NBER Working Papers 27251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pensions; Retirement; Defined benefit pension plans; Defined contribution pension plans;

    JEL classification:

    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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