June 23, 2016

CAAR – University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Pension Research Council Working Paper – June 23, 2016

Filed under: Working Papers — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:14 pm

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A. “Workplace-Linked Pensions for an Aging Demographic,” by Olivia S. Mitchell and John Piggott (WP2016-3, January 2016, .pdf format, 62p.).


Pensions and population aging intersect in two ways. First, demographic change threatens the sustainability of traditional pay-as-you-go social security pensions, leaving workplace-linked pensions with a greater role in retirement provision. Second, as the Baby Boom generation enters retirement, new challenges arise around its retirement support. This chapter reviews some of the implications of population aging for workplace pensions in this new environment, outlines market considerations important for workplace-related pension design for the future, and discusses how governments can create an environment supportive of workplace-related pensions, should they wish to do so. We conclude that workplace-linked retirement saving systems will be asked to do even more than in the past, given the financial stress that pay-as-you-go government-run Social Security plans are confronting in the face of an aging demographic. This will require further product innovation and additional research.

B. “Employee Financial Literacy and Retirement Plan Behavior: A Case Study,” by Robert Clark, Annamaria Lusardi, and Olivia S. Mitchell (WP2016-2, June 2016, .pdf format, 31p.).


This paper uses administrative data on all active employees of the Federal Reserve System to examine participation in and contributions to the Thrift Saving Plan, the System’s defined contribution (DC) plan. We link to administrative records a unique employee survey of economic/demographic factors including a set of financial literacy questions. Not surprisingly, Federal Reserve employees are substantially more financially literate than the population at large. Most importantly, financially savvy employees are also most likely to participate in their DC plan. Sophisticated workers contribute three percentage points more of their earnings to the DC plan than do the less knowledgeable, and they hold more equity in their pension accounts. We examine changes in employee plan behavior one year after employees completed a Learning Module about retirement planning, and we compare it to baseline patterns. We find that those employees who completed the Learning Module were more likely to start contributing and less likely to have stopped contributing to the DC plan post-survey. In sum, employer-provided learning programs are shown to significantly impact employee retirement saving decisions and consistent with a lot of other research, higher levels of financial literacy is found to have a beneficial impact on retirement saving patterns.

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