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Is there an optimal pension fund size? A scale-economy analysis of administrative and investment costs

This paper investigates scale economies and the optimal scale of pension funds, estimating different cost functions with varying assumptions about the shape of the underlying average cost function: Ushaped versus monotonically declining. Using unique data for Dutch pension funds over 1992-2009, we find that unused scale economies for both administrative and investment activities are indeed large and concave, that is, huge for small pension funds and decreasing with pension fund size. For administrative activities, we observe a clear optimal scale of around 40 thousand participants during 1992-2000 (pointing to a U shaped average cost function), which increases sharply in subsequent years to size above the largest pension fund, pointing to monotonically decreasing average costs. As regards investment costs we observe an optimal scale for total assets of around € 690 million and larger, without a clear shift over time and without diseconomies of scale for larger funds. The results are very sensitive to the correct functional form of the cost model. Consolidation among especially smaller and medium-sized pension funds would increase cost efficiency.

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File URL: http://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/290090/13-06.pdf
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Paper provided by Utrecht School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 13-06.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:use:tkiwps:1306
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  1. J.A. Bikker & O.W. Steenbeek & F. Torracchi, 2010. "The impact of scale, complexity, and service quality on the administrative costs of pension funds: A cross-country comparison," Working Papers 10-15, Utrecht School of Economics.
  2. James,Estelle & Smalhout, James & Vittas, Dimitri, 2001. "Administrative costs and the organization of individual retirement account systems : a comparative perspective," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2554, The World Bank.
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  17. Bikker, Jacob A. & Spierdijk, Laura & van der Sluis, Pieter Jelle, 2007. "Market impact costs of institutional equity trades," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 974-1000, October.
  18. Bikker, Jacob A. & De Dreu, Jan, 2009. "Operating costs of pension funds: the impact of scale, governance, and plan design," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 63-89, January.
  19. Michael C. Jensen, 1968. "The Performance Of Mutual Funds In The Period 1945–1964," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 23(2), pages 389-416, 05.
  20. Richard Hinz & Heinz P. Rudolph & Pablo Antolin & Juan Yermo, 2010. "Evaluating the Financial Performance of Pension Funds," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2405, June.
  21. Malhotra, D K & McLeod, Robert W, 1997. "An Empirical Analysis of Mutual Fund Expenses," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 20(2), pages 175-90, Summer.
  22. Malkiel, Burton G, 1995. " Returns from Investing in Equity Mutual Funds 1971 to 1991," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(2), pages 549-72, June.
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