Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



The past decade has seen a shift from traditional employer-sponsored defined benefit pensions toward individual account defined contribution plans. This has profound implications for participants’ retirement security, as it involves a reallocation of risks and rewards from the plan sponsor to the employee. While much has been written about the transfer of investment risk and the potential consequences of bad investment choices, less attention has been focused on other potential hazards to retirement security. These include the effect of job changes and other employment factors on contribution patterns, the chance of outliving one’s accumulated assets, and the tension between encouraging participants to save for retirement while allowing access to those assets for a variety of other pressing financial needs. This chapter examines these challenges to participant retirement income security and identifies several legal and policy changes that might enable participants to cope better with such changes.


The published version of this Working Paper may be found in the 2006 publication: Restructuring Retirement Risks.

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

All findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the author(s) and not those of the Wharton School or the Pension Research Council. Copyright 2005 © Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.

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Economics Commons



Date Posted: 30 August 2019