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  • Cited by 6
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Elder, Erick M. and Wagner, Gary A. 2015. Political Effects on Pension Underfunding. Economics & Politics, Vol. 27, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Clark, Gordon L. and Monk, Ashby H. B. 2014. State and Local Pension Fund Governance and the Process of Contracting for Investment Services: The Scope of Diversity and the Problem of Embeddedness. Territory, Politics, Governance, Vol. 2, Issue. 2, p. 150.

    Godbout, Luc Trudel, Yves and St-Cerny, Suzie 2014. Differential Returns by Year of Retirement under the Canada Pension Plan. Canadian Public Policy, Vol. 40, Issue. 4, p. 364.

    Kelley, Dashle G. 2014. The political economy of unfunded public pension liabilities. Public Choice, Vol. 158, Issue. 1-2, p. 21.

    Godbout, Luc Trudel, Yves and St-Cerny, Suzie 2013. Le Régime de rentes du Québec : le rendement différencié selon l’année de prise de la retraite de 1968 jusqu’en 2056. L'Actualité économique, Vol. 89, Issue. 2, p. 89.

    BROWN, JEFFREY R. CLARK, ROBERT and RAUH, JOSHUA 2011. The economics of state and local pensions. Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Vol. 10, Issue. 02, p. 161.

  • Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Volume 10, Issue 2
  • April 2011, pp. 247-268

Public pension funding in practice

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 12 April 2011

Public pension funding has recently become a front-burner policy issue in the wake of the financial crisis and given the pending retirement of large numbers of baby boomers. This paper examines the current funding of state and local pensions using a sample of 126 plans, estimating an aggregate funded ratio in 2009 of 78% using GASB accounting methods. Projections for 2010–2013 suggest that some continued deterioration is likely. Funded status can vary significantly among plans, and so the paper explores the influence of four types of factors: funding discipline, plan governance, plan characteristics, and the fiscal situation of the state. Judging the long-term health of plans requires more than just a snapshot of assets and liabilities, and so the paper examines how well plans are meeting their Annual Required Contributions and what factors influence whether they make them. The paper also addresses the controversy over what discount rate to use for valuing liabilities, concluding that using a riskless rate of return could help improve funding discipline but would need to be implemented in a manageable way. Finally, the paper assesses whether plans face a near-term liquidity crisis and finds that most have assets on hand to cover benefits over the next 15–20 years. The bottom line is that, like private investors, public plans have been hit hard by the financial crisis and their full recovery is dependent on the rebound of the economy and the stock market.

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J. R. Brown and D. Wilcox (2009) Discounting state and local pension liabilities. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 99(2): 538542.

Henning Bohn and Robert P. Inman (1996) Balanced-Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States. Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, 45: 1376.

J. I. Bulow (1982) What are corporate pension liabilities? Quarterly Journal of Economics, 97(3): 435452.

Julia L. Coronado , Eric M. Engen , and Brian Knight (2003) Public Funds and Private Capital Markets: The Investment Practices and Performance of State and Local Pension Funds. National Tax Journal, 56(3): 579594.

B. A. Chaney , P. A. Copley and M. S. Stone (2002) The effect of fiscal stress and balanced budget requirements on the funding and measurement of state pension obligations. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, 21: 287313.

R. Romano (1993) Public Pension Fund Activism in Corporate Governance Reconsidered. Columbia Law Review, 93(4): 795853.

M. Schneider and F. Damanpour (2002) Public choice economics and public pension plan funding: an empirical test. Administration and Society, 34(1): 5786.

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Journal of Pension Economics & Finance
  • ISSN: 1474-7472
  • EISSN: 1475-3022
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-pension-economics-and-finance
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