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Growing pension deficits and the expenditure decisions of UK companies

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  • Philip Bunn
  • Paul Mizen
  • Pawel Smietanka

Abstract

Large deficits have opened up on defined benefit pension schemes in the UK since 2007, and at the same time investment expenditure has been subdued; this is a common phenomenon in other countries too. We use privileged access to a unique new dataset from The Pensions Regulator and two identification schemes to investigate the effects of deficits and deficit recovery plans on UK companies’ dividends, investment, wages and cash holdings. Identification is based on the close relationship between low long-term interest rates and pension deficits; and the external regulation of pension schemes by The Pensions Regulator. We show that firms with larger pension deficits voluntarily pay lower dividends, but they do not invest less. However, firms that are required to make deficit recovery contributions by the regulator have lower dividend and investment expenditure compared to other firms, and more so if they are financially constrained. These effects are large for some individual companies, but macro-economically small compared to the stimulus offered by the Bank of England’s quantitative easing policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Bunn & Paul Mizen & Pawel Smietanka, 2018. "Growing pension deficits and the expenditure decisions of UK companies," Discussion Papers 2018/05, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcfc:18/05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Adrjan, Pawel & Bell, Brian, 2018. "Pension shocks and wages," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 88687, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Douglas, Graeme & Roberts-Sklar, Matt, 2018. "What drives UK defined benefit pension funds' investment behaviour?," Bank of England working papers 757, Bank of England.
    3. Armitage, Seth & Gallagher, Ronan, 2019. "Are pension contributions a threat to shareholder payouts?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 27-42.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    pension deficits; investment; dividends; cash holdings; monetary policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy

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