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The Political Economy of Public Pensions: Pension Funding, Governance, and Fiscal Stress

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  • Ping-Lung Hsin
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to describe and evaluate how public sector defined benefit pension plans are managed, and to assess possible implications of different pension management styles for promised pension benefits. The authors explore the actuarial and economic assumptions employed by public pension managers when they set funding targets, using a new survey of state and local pension plans in the United States. The analysis shows that key assumptions under the control of public pension plan trustees are sensitive to factors in the pension environment. An implication of the paper is that public pension funding patterns may become more sensitive to strategic selection of interest role and other key assumptions as public sector budgets are subjected to fiscal pressures, and when they are managed by participant-run boards.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ping-Lung Hsin & Olivia S. Mitchell, "undated". "The Political Economy of Public Pensions: Pension Funding, Governance, and Fiscal Stress," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-6, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:pennpr:94-6
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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Edwards, 1998. "The Chilean Pension Reform: A Pioneering Program," NBER Chapters,in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 33-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Arrau, Patricio & Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus, 1995. "Pensions systems and reform : country experiences and research issues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1470, The World Bank.
    3. Olivia S. Mitchell & Roderick Carr, "undated". "State and Local Pension Plans," Pension Research Council Working Papers 95-13, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1998. "Administrative Costs in Public and Private Retirement Systems," NBER Chapters,in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 403-456 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Olivia S. Mitchell & David McCarthy & Stanley C. Wisniewski & Paul Zorn, "undated". "Developments in State and Local Pension Plans," Pension Research Council Working Papers 99-4, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    6. Olivia S. Mitchell & John Piggott & Cagri Kumru, 2008. "Managing Public Investment Funds: Best Practices and New Challenges," NBER Working Papers 14078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Michael Useem & Olivia S. Mitchell, "undated". "Holders of the Purse Strings: Governance and Performance of Public Retirement Systems," Pension Research Council Working Papers 2000-3, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    8. Olivia S. Mitchell, "undated". "International Models for Pension Reform," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-5, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    9. Olivia S. Mitchell, "undated". "Developments in Pensions," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-4, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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