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The Usefulness of the Wind-Up Measure of Pension Liabilities: A LabourMarket Perspective


  • James E. Pesando


Financial economists have long favoured the use of a wind-up measure of the firm's pension liabilities. Yet the pension liabilities of the firm also represent the pension wealth of its workers. It is reasonable to presume that workers and shareholders have a common view of the pension contract. If the wind-up measure depicts the true pension liabilities of the firm, then the wage concession granted by its workers must reflect the fact that the firm may choose to terminate the plan at any time. Data on the wage-service characteristics of the membership of a sample of final earnings plans in Canada suggest,contrary to the implications of the wind-up measure, that workers' wages do not internalize accruing pension benefits on a year-to-year basis. Instead, the data suggest that pension plans may be a vehicle through which a significant portion of the total compensation of individual employees is deferred until their later work years, and that the wind-up measure may well understate the pension liabilities of an on-going firm.

Suggested Citation

  • James E. Pesando, 1985. "The Usefulness of the Wind-Up Measure of Pension Liabilities: A LabourMarket Perspective," NBER Working Papers 1559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1559
    Note: PE LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeremy I. Bulow & Randall Morck & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "How Does the Market Value Unfunded Pension Liabilities?," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 81-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Pesando, James E, 1984. "Employee Evaluation of Pension Claims and the Impact of Indexing Initiatives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(1), pages 1-17, January.
    3. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven, 1983. "Financial Aspects of the United States Pension System," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi83-1.
    4. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    5. Jeremy I. Bulow, 1982. "What are Corporate Pension Liabilities?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(3), pages 435-452.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Klumpes & Mark Whittington & Yong Li, 2009. "Determinants of the Pension Curtailment Decisions of UK Firms," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(7-8), pages 899-924.
    2. David McCarthy, 2003. "A Lifecycle Analysis of Defined Benefit Pension Plans," Working Papers wp053, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

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