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The Political Economy of Underfunded Municipal Pension Plans

Author

Listed:
  • Holger Sieg

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Daniele Coen-Pirani

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Jeffrey Brinkman

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to provide an explanation of the political and economic determinants of underfunding of municipal pension funds. We develop a new dynamic politico-economic model within an overlapping generations framework. The key insight of the model is that underfunding can result in equilibrium even if individuals are fully informed, perfectly rational, and forward looking, and policies are capitalized in housing or land prices. Funding policies matter if housing also serves as collateral for households that are potentially credit constrained. The model suggests that differences in funding levels are systematically related to differences in economic fundamentals such as wage levels, the size of the public sector in a city, and the compensation of public sector workers measured by the current wage and retirement benefi…ts. Finally, our analysis has some important policy implications. A policy intervention that mandates higher funding rates for municipalities than those adopted in equilibrium improves household welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Sieg & Daniele Coen-Pirani & Jeffrey Brinkman, 2015. "The Political Economy of Underfunded Municipal Pension Plans," 2015 Meeting Papers 345, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed015:345
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    1. Levon Barseghyan & Stephen Coate, 2017. "On the Dynamics of Community Development," NBER Working Papers 23674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • R5 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis

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