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How Does the Market Value Unfunded Pension Liabilities?

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  • Jeremy I. Bulow
  • Randall Morck
  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

We lead off by discussing a number of theoretical reasons for expecting various relationships between a firm's unfunded pension liability and its market value. We then discuss our doubts about the methodology of earlier papers which studied the empirical relation between funding and market value using standard cross sectional techniques. A modified cross sectional approach which alleviates some of these doubts, and a variable effect event study methodology which alleviates most of them are both employed to investigate the issues raised in the first part of the paper. Our conclusion confirms those of earlier studies that unfunded pension liabilities are accurately reflected in lower share prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy I. Bulow & Randall Morck & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "How Does the Market Value Unfunded Pension Liabilities?," NBER Working Papers 1602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1602
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    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. French, Kenneth R & Ruback, Richard S & Schwert, G William, 1983. "Effects of Nominal Contracting on Stock Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 70-96, February.
    3. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    4. Sharpe, William F., 1976. "Corporate pension funding policy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 183-193, June.
    5. Feldstein, Martin & Seligman, Stephanie, 1981. "Pension Funding, Share Prices, and National Savings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(4), pages 801-824, September.
    6. Mark Gersovitz, 1980. "Economic Consequences of Unfunded Vested Pension Benefits," NBER Working Papers 0480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julia Lynn Coronado & Steven A. Sharpe, 2003. "Did Pension Plan Accounting Contribute to a Stock Market Bubble?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 323-371.
    2. Steven G. Allen & Robert L. Clark, 1987. "Pensions and Firm Performance," NBER Working Papers 2266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Francesco Franzoni & José M. Marín, 2006. "Pension Plan Funding and Stock Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(2), pages 921-956, April.
    4. Jin, Li & Merton, Robert C. & Bodie, Zvi, 2006. "Do a firm's equity returns reflect the risk of its pension plan?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 1-26, July.
    5. Robert Holzmann & Robert Palacios & Asta Zviniene, 2001. "On the Economics and Scope of Implicit Pension Debt: An International Perspective," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 97-129, March.
    6. Coronado, Julia & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Sharpe, Steven A. & Blake Nesbitt, S., 2008. "Footnotes aren't enough: the impact of pension accounting on stock values," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(3), pages 257-276, November.
    7. 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.
    8. Chen, An, 2011. "A risk-based model for the valuation of pension insurance," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 401-409.
    9. Cardinale, Mirko & Orszag, Mike, 2004. "Severance Pay and Corporate Finance: Empirical Evidence from a Panel of Austrian and Italian Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 1383, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Zvi Bodie, 1989. "Pension Funds and Financial Innovation," NBER Working Papers 3101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. B. Douglas Bernheim & John B. Shoven, 1988. "Pension Funding and Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 85-114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Pesando, James E, 1985. "The Usefulness of the Wind-Up Measure of Pension Liabilities: A Labor Market Perspective," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 927-940, July.
    13. Alicia H. Munnell & Frederick O. Yohn, 1991. "What is the impact of pensions on saving?," Working Papers 91-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    14. Nakajima, Kan & Sasaki, Takafumi, 2010. "Unfunded pension liabilities and stock returns," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-63, January.
    15. Atanasova, Christina & Hrazdil, Karel, 2010. "Why do healthy firms freeze their defined-benefit pension plans?," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 293-303.
    16. Scott Weisbenner, 2000. "Corporate share repurchases in the 1990s: what role do stock options play?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    17. Kamakshya Trivedi & Garry Young, 2006. "Defined benefit company pensions and corporate valuations: simulation and empirical evidence from the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 289, Bank of England.

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