Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

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Working Paper

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Pension plans covering US public sector employees now face the twin challenges of poor asset returns and rapid increases in liabilities, producing the worst pension funding outcomes in decades. This paper explores how public pension plan investment performance and funding is related to several structural and pension design features. Using a new longitudinal dataset on state and local public pension plans, we evaluate how investment performance is tied to stock funding ratios and how stock funding ratio in turn affects flow funding efforts. We find that particular governance structures can enhance public pension plan investment performance and funding status, and we suggest ways in which public plan design might be improved.

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Copyright/Permission Statement

©2005 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved.


Funding for this research was provided by the Pension Research Council, the Boettner Center, and a Bradley Foundation Fellowship (Yang). Without implicating them, we acknowledge helpful assistance and suggestions Chris Allen, Nick Greifer, Robert Inman, Karl Johnson, Marie-Eve Lachance, Steven Nesbitt, John Piggott, and Perry Young. Opinions and any errors remain the authors’ responsibility.

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Economics Commons



Date Posted: 30 August 2019