IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/16453.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Policy Options for State Pension Systems and Their Impact on Plan Liabilities

Author

Listed:
  • Joshua Rauh
  • Robert Novy-Marx

Abstract

We calculate the present value of state pension liabilities under existing policies, and separately under policy changes that would affect pension payouts including cost of living adjustments (COLAs), retirement ages, and buyout schedules for early retirement. Liabilities if plans were frozen as of June 2009 would be $3.2 trillion if capitalized using taxable municipal curves, which credit states for a possibility of default in the same states of the world as general obligation debt, and $4.4 trillion using the Treasury curve. Under the typical actuarial method of recognizing future service and wage increases, liabilities are $3.6 trillion and $5.2 trillion using municipal curves and Treasury curves respectively. Compared to $1.8 trillion in pension fund assets, the baseline level of unfunded liabilities is therefore around $3 trillion under Treasury rates. A one percentage point reduction in COLAs would reduce total liabilities by 9‐11%, implementing actuarially fair early retirement could reduce them by 2‐5%, and raising the retirement age by one year would reduce them by 2‐4%. Even relatively dramatic policy changes, such as the elimination of COLAs or the implementation of Social Security retirement age parameters, would leave liabilities around $1.5 trillion more than plan assets under Treasury discounting. This suggests that taxpayers will bear the lion's share of the costs associated with the legacy liabilities of state DB pension plans.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Rauh & Robert Novy-Marx, 2010. "Policy Options for State Pension Systems and Their Impact on Plan Liabilities," NBER Working Papers 16453, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16453
    Note: PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16453.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Robert Novy-Marx & Joshua D. Rauh, 2008. "The Intergenerational Transfer of Public Pension Promises," NBER Working Papers 14343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:aei:rpaper:31094 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jeffrey R. Brown & David W. Wilcox, 2009. "Discounting State and Local Pension Liabilities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 538-542, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Vincent Touzé, 2011. "Le financement des retraites aux États-Unis. Impact de la crise et tendances de long terme," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(3), pages 63-112.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H74 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Borrowing

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16453. 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: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.