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What is a public sector pension worth?

Author

Listed:
  • Richard Disney

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Sussex)

  • Carl Emmerson

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Gemma Tetlow

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Abstract

We measure accruals in defined benefit (DB) pension plans for public and private sector workers in Britain, using typical differences in scheme rules and sector-specific lifetime age-earnings profiles by sex and educational group. We show not just that coverage by DB pension plans is greater in the public sector, but that median pension accruals as a % of salary are almost 5% higher among DB-covered public sector workers than covered private sector workers. This is largely driven by earlier normal pension (retirement) ages. For workers of different ages in the two sectors, marginal accruals also vary as a result of differences in earnings profiles across the sectors. The differences in earnings profiles across sectors should induce caution in using calculated coefficients on wages from cross sections of data in order to estimate sectoral wage effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Disney & Carl Emmerson & Gemma Tetlow, 2007. "What is a public sector pension worth?," IFS Working Papers W07/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:07/17
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Richard Disney & Amanda Gosling, 1998. "Does it pay to work in the public sector?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(4), pages 347-374, November.
    2. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2002. "The Consequences of The Decline in Public Sector Pay in Britain: A Little Bit of Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(477), pages 107-118, February.
    3. Disney, Richard & Whitehouse, Edward, 1996. "What Are Occupational Pension Plan Entitlements Worth in Britain?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 213-238, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Levell & Jonathan Shaw, 2016. "Constructing Full Adult Life-cycles from Short Panels," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 9(2), pages 5-40.
    2. Alexander M. Danzer & Peter Dolton & Chiara Rosazza Bondibene, 2016. "Who Wins? Evaluating the Impact of UK Public Sector Pension Scheme Reforms," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 237(1), pages 38-46, August.
    3. Danzer, Alexander M. & Dolton, Peter J., 2012. "Total Reward and pensions in the UK in the public and private sectors," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 584-594.
    4. Peter Levell & Barra Roantree & Jonathan Shaw, 2016. "Mobility and the lifetime distributional impact of tax and transfer reforms," IFS Working Papers W16/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    5. Platanakis, Emmanouil & Sutcliffe, Charles, 2016. "Pension scheme redesign and wealth redistribution between the members and sponsor: The USS rule change in October 2011," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 14-28.
    6. Eich, Frank, 2009. "Evaluating public and private sector pensions: The importance of sectoral pay differentials," EconStor Preprints 54561, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    7. Marco Bertoni & Giorgio Brunello, 2016. "Later-borns Don’t Give Up: The Temporary Effects of Birth Order on European Earnings," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(2), pages 449-470, April.
    8. Meijdam, A.C. & Ponds, E.H.M., 2013. "On the Optimal Degree Of Funding Of Public Sector Pension Plans," Discussion Paper 2013-011, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    9. Bertoni, Marco & Brunello, Giorgio, 2013. "Laterborns Don't Give Up: The Effects of Birth Order on Earnings in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 7679, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Danzer, Alexander M. & Dolton, Peter, 2011. "Total Reward in the UK in the Public and Private Sectors," IZA Discussion Papers 5656, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Etheridge, Ben, 2015. "A test of the household income process using consumption and wealth data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 129-157.
    12. Ponds, E.H.M. & Severinson, C. & Yermo, J., 2012. "Implicit debt in public sector plans : An international comparison," Other publications TiSEM 8263bb65-8b50-4890-9252-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    13. Eduard Ponds & Clara Severinson & Juan Yermo, 2011. "Funding in Public Sector Pension Plans - International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 17082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2015. "Does it pay to be a public-sector employee?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 156-156, June.
    15. Max Schanzenbach, 2015. "Explaining the Public-Sector Pay Gap: The Role of Skill and College Major," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-44.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • 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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