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

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  • J.A. Bikker

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • J.A. Bikker, 2013. "Is there an optimal pension fund size? A scale-economy analysis of administrative and investment costs," Working Papers 13-06, Utrecht School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:use:tkiwps:1306
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    File URL: https://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/290090/13-06.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. J.A. Bikker & D.E. van der Linde, 2015. "The Optimum Size of Local Public Administration," Working Papers 15-05, Utrecht School of Economics.
    2. Adam Butt & M. Scott Donald & F. Douglas Foster & Susan Thorp & Geoffrey J. Warren & Tom Smith, 2017. "Design of MySuper default funds: influences and outcomes," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 57(1), pages 47-85, March.
    3. Hollanders, David, 2016. "Asset Management Costs and Financial Performance of Dutch Pension Funds in 2011-2014," Other publications TiSEM db6a1950-5d81-4e41-b035-f, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Broeders, Dirk W.G.A. & van Oord, Arco & Rijsbergen, David R., 2016. "Scale economies in pension fund investments: A dissection of investment costs across asset classes," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 147-171.
    5. Dirk Broeders & Paul Hilbers & David Rijsbergen & Ningli Shen, 2014. "What Drives Pension Indexation in Turbulent Times? An Empirical Examination of Dutch Pension Funds," De Economist, Springer, vol. 162(1), pages 41-70, March.
    6. James R. Cummings & David Gallagher, 2016. "Effect of fund size on the performance of Australian superannuation funds," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 56(3), pages 695-725, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pension funds; unit-costs function; administrative costs; investment costs; economies of scale; pension plan design;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors

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