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Post-Retirement Adjustments of Pension Benefits

Listed author(s):
  • Steven G. Allen
  • Robert L. Clark
  • Daniel A. Sumner

This paper examines why pension plans increased their liabflities by giving benefit increases to persons no longer working even though almost al lof them were not required to do so by any legally enforceable contract. In our model workers and firms have implicit contracts under which post-retirement increases in benefits are purchased by workers through lower wages or initial benefits. Such arrangements permit both plans and workersto share the risk of uncertain rates of return. They also allow beneficiaries to invest at a higher net rate of return than they could obtain elsewhere because of tax advantages and, in large plans, economies of scale. We also discuss how post-retirement adjustments can be used to influence turnover. Some empirical implications of the model are tested over a sample of beneficiaries of defined benefit plans. The major empirical findings are:(1) There is strong evidence of compensating differentials in final salary and initial pension benefits for beneficiaries receiving post-retirement adjustments.(2) Regardless of how the size of pension plans is measured(beneficiaries, participants, amount of benefits paid), large pension plans provide larger post-retirement benefit increases.(3) Beneficiaries of collectively bargained plans are more likelyto receive benefit increases and, among those receiving benefit increases, receive larger increases.(4) Benefit increases are larger in percentage terms for those who have been retired the longest and for those with the most years of service.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1364.

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Date of creation: Jun 1984
Publication status: published as Allen, Steven G. Robert L. Clark and Daniel A. Sumner. "Post-Retirement Adjustments of Pension Benefits," Journal of Human Resources, Vol. XXI, No. 1, (Winter 1986), pp. 118-137.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1364
Note: LS PE
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  1. Duncan, Greg J & Holmlund, Bertil, 1983. "Was Adam Smith Right after All? Another Test of the Theory of Compensating Wage Differentials," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 366-379, October.
  2. Burt S. Barnow & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1979. "The Costs of Defined Benefit Pension Plans and Firm Adjustments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 523-540.
  3. Richard B. Freeman, 1985. "Unions, Pensions, and Union Pension Funds," NBER Chapters,in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 89-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Martin Feldstein, 1983. "Should Private Pensions Be Indexed?," NBER Chapters,in: Financial Aspects of the United States Pension System, pages 211-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1980. "Retirement System Characteristics and Compensating Wage Differentials in the Public Sector," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 33(4), pages 470-483, July.
  6. Olivia S. Mitchell & Emily S. Andrews, 1981. "Scale Economies in Private Multi-Employer Pension Systems," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(4), pages 522-530, July.
  7. Steven G. Allen & Robert L. Clark, 1985. "Unions, Pension Wealth, and Age-Compensation Profiles," NBER Working Papers 1677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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