IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Behavioral Economics Perspectives on Public Sector Pension Plans

  • John Beshears
  • James J. Choi
  • David Laibson
  • Brigitte C. Madrian

We describe the pension plan features of the states and the largest cities and counties in the U.S. Unlike in the private sector, defined benefit (DB) pensions are still the norm in the public sector. However, a few jurisdictions have shifted towards defined contribution (DC) plans as their primary savings plan, and fiscal pressures are likely to generate more movement in this direction. Holding fixed a public employee's work and salary history, we show that DB retirement income replacement ratios vary greatly across jurisdictions. This creates large variation in workers' need to save for retirement in other accounts. There is also substantial heterogeneity across jurisdictions in the savings generated in primary DC plans because of differences in the level of mandatory employer and employee contributions. One notable difference between public and private sector DC plans is that public sector primary DC plans are characterized by required employee or employer contributions (or both), whereas private sector plans largely feature voluntary employee contributions that are supplemented by an employer match. We conclude by applying lessons from savings behavior in private sector savings plans to the design of public sector plans.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16728.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16728.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2011. "Behavioral economics perspectives on public sector pension plans," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 315-336, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16728
Note: AG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. Annamarie Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing," Working Papers wp108, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  2. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell & Vilsa Curto, 2009. "Financial Literacy among the Young: Evidence and Implications for Consumer Policy," NBER Working Papers 15352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Olivia S. Mitchell, 2000. "New Trends in Pension Benefit and Retirement Provisions," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 00-06, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  4. repec:crr:issbrf:ib2007-7-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2004. "Plan Design and 401(k) Savings Outcomes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(2), pages 275-98, June.
  6. Gopi Shah Goda & Colleen Flaherty Manchester, 2010. "Incorporating Employee Heterogeneity Into Default Rules for Retirement Plan Selection," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2010-5, Center for Retirement Research.
  7. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2010. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 1405-1432, April.
  8. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Marian V. Wrobel, 2008. "Why Don't People Insure Late Life Consumption: A Framing Explanation of the Under-Annuitization Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 13748, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "The importance of default options for retirement saving outcomes: evidence from the United States," CeRP Working Papers 43, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  10. Alicia H. Munnell & Mauricio Soto, 2006. "What Replacement Rates Do Households Actually Experience In Retirement?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2005-10, Center for Retirement Research.
  11. Richard Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. Campbell, John & Calvet, Lauren E. & Sodini, Paolo, 2009. "Measuring the Financial Sophistication of Households," Scholarly Articles 2618438, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Saku Aura, 2002. "Does the Balance of Power Within a Family Matter? The Case of the Retirement Equity Act," CESifo Working Paper Series 734, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2007. "Reinforcement Learning and Savings Behavior," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2657, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Mar 2009.
  15. Brown, Jeffrey R. & Liang, Nellie & Weisbenner, Scott, 2007. "Individual account investment options and portfolio choice: Behavioral lessons from 401(k) plans," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 1992-2013, November.
  16. James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2003. "Passive Decisions and Potent Defaults," NBER Working Papers 9917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri & Surachai Khitatrakun, 2004. "Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?," NBER Working Papers 10260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas Steinmeier & Nahid Tabatabai, 2007. "Imperfect Knowledge of Pension Plan Type," NBER Working Papers 13379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2009. "Mental Accounting in Portfolio Choice: Evidence from a Flypaper Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2085-95, December.
  20. Wise, David A. (ed.), 2005. "Analyses in the Economics of Aging," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226902869.
  21. Jeffrey R. Brown, 2007. "Rational and Behavioral Perspectives on the Role of Annuities in Retirement Planning," NBER Working Papers 13537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. David Card & Michael Ransom, 2007. "Pension Plan Characteristics and Framing Effects in Employee Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 13275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2006. "Simplification and Saving," NBER Working Papers 12659, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  25. Sewin Chan & Ann Huff Stevens, 2008. "What You Don't Know Can't Help You: Pension Knowledge and Retirement Decision-Making," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 253-266, May.
  26. Carroll, Gabriel D. & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David I. & Madrian, Brigitte & Metrick, Andrew, 2009. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," Scholarly Articles 4686776, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  27. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia Mitchell, 2006. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education Programs," Working Papers wp144, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  28. Annamaria Lusardi & Peter Tufano, 2009. "Debt Literacy, Financial Experiences, and Overindebtedness," CeRP Working Papers 83, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  29. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & Cori R. Uccello, 1999. "The Adequacy of Retirement Saving," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(2), pages 65-188.
  31. Wise, David A. (ed.), 2009. "The Economics of Aging," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226903224.
  32. Gur Huberman & Wei Jiang, 2006. "Offering versus Choice in 401(k) Plans: Equity Exposure and Number of Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(2), pages 763-801, 04.
  33. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  34. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey B. Liebman & David A. Wise, 2009. "Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brow08-1, October.
  35. John Chalmers & Jonathan Reuter, 2009. "How Do Retirees Value Life Annuities? Evidence from Public Employees," NBER Working Papers 15608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Jeffrey R. Brown & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2009. "Who Chooses Defined Contribution Plans?," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 131-161 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  37. Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Excessive Extrapolation and the Allocation of 401(k) Accounts to Company Stock," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(5), pages 1747-1764, October.
  38. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2004. "Employees' Investment Decisions about Company Stock," NBER Working Papers 10228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  39. K. C. Holden & S. Nicholson, . "Selection of a Joint-and-Survivor Pension," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1175-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  40. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2004. "Saving or Retirement on the Path of Least Resistance," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000606, UCLA Department of Economics.
  41. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S Mitchelli, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 35-44, January.
  42. Laibson, David I. & Choi, James J. & Madrian, Brigitte, 2009. "Reducing the Complexity Costs of 401(k) Participation Through Quick Enrollment," Scholarly Articles 4686772, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  43. Wise, David A. (ed.), 2009. "Developments in the Economics of Aging," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226903354.
  44. Julie R. Agnew & Lisa R. Anderson & Jeffrey R. Gerlach & Lisa R. Szykman, 2008. "Who Chooses Annuities? An Experimental Investigation of the Role of Gender, Framing, and Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 418-22, May.
  45. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard Thaler, 2007. "Heuristics and Biases in Retirement Savings Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 81-104, Summer.
  46. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey Liebman & David A. Wise, 2009. "Introduction to "Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment"," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 1-17 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16728. 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 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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.