Public Pension Funding in Practice
Public pension funding has recently become a front-burner policy issue in the wake of the financial crisis and given the pending retirement of large numbers of baby boomers. This paper examines the current funding of state and local pensions using a sample of 126 plans, estimating an aggregate funded ratio in 2009 of 78 percent. Projections for 2010-2013 suggest that some continued deterioration is likely. Funded status can vary significantly among plans, so the paper explores the influence of four types of factors: funding discipline, plan governance, plan characteristics, and the fiscal situation of the state. Judging the adequacy of funding requires more than just a snapshot of assets and liabilities, so the paper examines how well plans are meeting their Annual Required Contribution and what factors influence whether they make them. The paper also addresses the controversy over what discount rate to use for valuing liabilities, concluding that using a riskless rate of return could help improve funding discipline but would need to be implemented in a manageable way. Finally, the paper assesses whether plans face a near-term liquidity crisis and finds that most have assets on hand to cover benefits over the next 15-20 years. The bottom line is that, like private investors, public plans have been hit hard by the financial crisis and their full recovery is dependent on the rebound of the economy and the stock market.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2010|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Munnell, Alicia H. & Aubry, Jean-Pierre & Quinby, Laura, 2011. "Public pension funding in practice," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 247-268, April.|
|Note:||AG PE POL|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Alicia H. Munnell & Jean-Pierre Aubry & Laura Quinby, 2010. "The Funding of State and Local Pensions: 2009-2013," Issues in Brief slp10, Center for Retirement Research, revised Apr 2010.
- Tongxuan (Stella) Yang & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2008. "Public Sector Pension Governance, Funding and Performance: A Longitudinal Appraisal," Chapters, in: Pension Fund Governance, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
- Olivia S. Mitchell & Roderick Carr, 1995.
"State and Local Pension Plans,"
NBER Working Papers
5271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Francis M. Vitagliano & Richard W. Kopcke & Zhenya Karamcheva, 2010. "Reducing Costs of 401(k) Plans with ETFs and Commingled Trusts," Issues in Brief ib2010-11, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jul 2010.
- Olivia S. Mitchell & Ping Lung Hsin, 1994. "Public Sector Pension Governance and Performance," NBER Working Papers 4632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alicia H. Munnell & Annika Sunden, . "Investment Practices of State and Local Pension Funds: Implications for Social Security Reform," Pension Research Council Working Papers 99-9, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
- Coronado, Julie L. & Engen, Eric M. & Knight, Brian, 2003. "Public Funds and Private Capital Markets: The Investment Practices and Performance of State and Local Pension Funds," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(3), pages 579-94, September.
- Johnson, R.W., 1995. "Pension Underfunding and Liberal Retirement Benefits Among State and Local Government Workers," Papers 95-04, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
- Jeffrey R. Brown & David W. Wilcox, 2009. "Discounting State and Local Pension Liabilities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 538-42, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16442. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.