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Administrative Costs in Public and Private Retirement Systems

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  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

This paper collects and analyzes available information on administrative costs associated with public and private retirement systems. We explore expenses of the US social security system and compare these with data from national systems in other countries. We find that administration costs of publicly-run social security systems vary a great deal across countries and institutional settings. A key factor influencing public old-age program costs is the system's scale: plans with more assets and more participants are less expensive. We also investigate expenses reported by US pension plans and mutual funds, programs seen by many as alternative mechanisms for managing retirement saving. Based on an analysis of costs associated with retirement savings plans managed by financial institutions, we conclude that privately managed old-age retirement programs would be somewhat more costly to operate than current publicly-managed programs, depending on the program's specific design. Nevertheless these costs would be accompanied by new services for participants.

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  • Olivia S. Mitchell, 1996. "Administrative Costs in Public and Private Retirement Systems," NBER Working Papers 5734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5734
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Valdes-Prieto, Salvador, 1994. "Administrative charges in pensions in Chile, Malaysia, Zambia, and the United States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1372, The World Bank.
    2. Ping-Lung Hsin & Olivia Mitchell, 1994. "The Political Economy of Public Pensions: Pension Funding, Governance, and Fiscal Stress," Revista de Analisis Economico – Economic Analysis Review, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Business, vol. 9(1), pages 151-168, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Elton, Edwin J, et al, 1993. "Efficiency with Costly Information: A Reinterpretation of Evidence from Managed Portfolios," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(1), pages 1-22.
    5. Stephen Mehay & Rodolfo Gonzalez, 1985. "Economic incentives under contract supply of local government services," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 79-86, January.
    6. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 741-803, June.
    7. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1991. "Trends in Pension Benefit Formulas and Retirement Provisions," NBER Working Papers 3744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic theory and the welfare state : a survey and interpretation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 279, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Josef Lakonishok & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1992. "The Structure and Performance of the Money Management Industry," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1992 Micr), pages 339-391.
    10. Gordon Goodfellow & Sylvester J. Schieber, "undated". "Investment of Assets in Self-Directed Retirement Plans."," Pension Research Council Working Papers 95-6, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    11. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-154.
    12. Robert Louis Clark & Ann A. McDermed, 1990. "The Choice of Pension Plans in a Changing Regulatory Environment," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 920432, September.
    13. Olivia S. Mitchell & Ping Lung Hsin, 1994. "Public Sector Pension Governance and Performance," NBER Working Papers 4632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Olivia S. Mitchell & Emily S. Andrews, 1981. "Scale Economies in Private Multi-Employer Pension Systems," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(4), pages 522-530, July.
    15. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Annika E. Sunden & Olivia S. Mitchell, "undated". "An Examination of Social Security Administration Costs in the United States," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-7, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    17. Atkinson, A.B., 1987. "Income maintenance and social insurance," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 13, pages 779-908, Elsevier.
    18. Gardner, Lisa A. & Grace, Martin F., 1993. "X-Efficiency in the US life insurance industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 497-510, April.
    19. Olivia S. Mitchell & Robert S. Smith, "undated". "Public Sector Pension Funding," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-4, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
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