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Defined Benefit Pension Plan Distribution Decisions by Public Sector Employees

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  • Robert L. Clark
  • Melinda S. Morrill
  • David Vanderweide

Abstract

Studies examining pension distribution choices have found that the tendency of private-sector workers is to select lump sum distributions instead of life annuities. In the public sector, defined benefit pensions usually offer lump sum distributions equal to employee contributions, not the present value of the annuity. Using administrative data from the North Carolina state and local government retirement systems, we find that over two-thirds of public sector workers under age 50 separating prior to retirement from public plans in North Carolina left their accounts open and did not request a cash distribution from the pension system within one year of separation. Furthermore, the evidence suggests many separating workers, particularly those with short tenure, may be forgoing important benefits due to lack of knowledge, understanding, or accessibility of benefits. In contrast to prior research in the private sector, we find no evidence of a bias toward cash distributions for public employees in North Carolina.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert L. Clark & Melinda S. Morrill & David Vanderweide, 2012. "Defined Benefit Pension Plan Distribution Decisions by Public Sector Employees," NBER Working Papers 18488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18488
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    Cited by:

    1. Touria Jaaidane & Robert J. Gary-Bobo, 2015. "The Evaluation of Pension Reforms in the Public Sector: A Case Study of the Paris Subway Drivers," CESifo Working Paper Series 5431, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Robert L. Clark & Robert G. Hammond & Melinda S. Morrill & David Vanderweide, 2017. "Annuity Options in Public Pension Plans: The Curious Case of Social Security Leveling," NBER Working Papers 23262, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. J. Michael Collins & Carly Urban, 2016. "The Role Of Information On Retirement Planning: Evidence From A Field Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(4), pages 1860-1872, October.
    4. Martin Boyer & Franca Glenzer, 2016. "Pensions, annuities, and long-term care insurance: On the impact of risk screening," Cahiers de recherche 1603, Chaire de recherche Industrielle Alliance sur les enjeux économiques des changements démographiques.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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