Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

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Working Paper

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The last 25 years have seen defined benefit plans increasingly been replaced by defined contribution (DC) arrangements. While the pace and shape of this change varies across countries, it is evident that we are living in a DC world. Yet the DC model is itself under challenge. The assumption of engaged consumers that accompanied the birth of DC has failed, and for both retirement and health benefits, there is a lingering question whether, in a world of low growth, stagnating incomes and increasingly diverse workforces, one-size-fits-all benefits plans can meet employees financial needs. Instead employers are increasingly expressing interest in moving to a next generation of benefits, one characterized by greater flexibility and choice, to encompass a broader range of employee needs. This paper discusses the emerging trends within occupational benefits, the forces that are driving these changes, and the challenges they pose.


The published version of this Working Paper may be found in the 2018 publication: How Persistent Low Returns Will Shape Saving and Retirement.

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. © 2017 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.

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Economics Commons



Date Posted: 13 February 2019