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Explaining Pension Dynamics

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  • Rebecca A. Luzadis
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

Some contend the US labor market will fail to adapt smoothly to an aging workforce, whereas others argue that employee pensions can and will play an important role in helping companies induce desired turnover patterns. This paper undertakes a longitudinal examination of pension retirement incentives in several dozen plans observed between about 1960 to 1980. The plans under study instituted many changes over this period, several of which enhanced the financial payoff to early retirement. These alterations included increases in benefit levels, reductions in early, normal and mandatory retirement ages, and cuts in the age at which pension present values peak (with retirement after that age penalized). We also find that simple indicators of pension plans' structural features (e.g. the plan's early retirement age) do not adequately summarize the complex financial incentives inherent in pensions, so that most of our attention is directed to analysis of financial benefit level measures. Three major explanations for observed pension outcomes are evaluated empirically. Of special policy interest is an evaluation of pension responses to changes in Social Security benefit rules. Additionally, key differences in behavior are discovered between single employer and multiemployer pension plans. We conclude that pension plan behavior is systematically related to both labor and product market characteristics, and is responsive to retirement income policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Rebecca A. Luzadis & Olivia S. Mitchell, 1989. "Explaining Pension Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 3084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3084
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard V. Burkhauser, 1979. "The Pension Acceptance Decision of Older Workers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(1), pages 63-75.
    2. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-88-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Steven G. Allen & Robert L. Clark & Daniel A. Sumner, 1986. "Postretirement Adjustments of Pension Benefits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 118-137.
    4. Phillip B. Levine & Olivia S. Mitchell, 1988. "The Baby Boom's Legacy: Relative Wages in the 21st Century," NBER Working Papers 2501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven, 1983. "Financial Aspects of the United States Pension System," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi83-1, June.
    6. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    7. Stock, James H & Wise, David A, 1990. "Pensions, the Option Value of Work, and Retirement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1151-1180, September.
    8. Hutchens, Robert, 1986. "Delayed Payment Contracts and a Firm's Propensity to Hire Older Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(4), pages 439-457, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Olivia S. Mitchell, "undated". "Retirement Systems in Developed and Developing Countries: Institutional Features, Economic Effects, and Lessons for Economies in Transition," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-3, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    2. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_865 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Olivia S. Mitchell, "undated". "New Trends in Pension Benefit and Retirement Provisions," Pension Research Council Working Papers 2000-1, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Social Security Incentives for Retirement," NBER Chapters,in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 311-354 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1993. "The Role of Pensions in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Garen, John & Berger, Mark & Scott, Frank, 1996. "Pensions, non-discrimination policies, and the employment of older workers," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 417-429.
    7. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Do pensions increase the labor supply of older men?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 157-175, February.
    8. Alan L. Gustman & F. Thomas Juster, 1995. "Income and Wealth of Older American Households: Modeling Issues for Public Policy Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "New evidence on pensions, social security, and the timing of retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 207-236, November.
    10. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell, 1990. "Pensions and the U.S. Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 3331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Dan A. Black, 1996. "Family Health Benefits and Worker Turnover," Labor and Demography 9604001, EconWPA.
    12. Vittas, Dimitri, 1998. "Regulatory controversies of private pension funds," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1893, The World Bank.
    13. Olivia S. Mitchell, "undated". "Developments in Pensions," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-4, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    14. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1994. "Retirement Research Using the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 4813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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