CDHA CAAR

March 25, 2013

CAAR – National Bureau of Economic Research Working Papers – March 25, 2013

Filed under: Working Papers — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:46 pm

A. “Rethinking Elderly Poverty: Time for a Health Inclusive Poverty Measure?”A. by Sanders Korenman and Dahlia Remler (18900, March 2013, .pdf format, 68p.).

Abstract:

Census’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) nearly doubles the elderly poverty rate compared to the “Official” Poverty Measure (OPM), a result of the SPM subtraction of medical out-of-pocket (MOOP) expenditures from income. Neither the SPM nor OPM counts health benefits or assets as resources. Validation studies suggest that subtracting MOOP from resources worsens a poverty measure’s predictive validity and excluding assets exacerbates this bias, since assets fund MOOP.

The SPM is based on a 1995 NAS report that recommended a health-exclusive poverty measure, despite considering it, conceptually, a “second best” to a Health-Inclusive Poverty Measure (HIPM). We analyze the reasons for the NAS recommendation and argue that constructing a HIPM is now feasible if we conceptualize health needs as a need for health insurance, and if plans with non-risk-rated premiums and caps on MOOP are universally available, a condition largely met by the Affordable Care Act and Medicare Advantage Plans.

We describe four HIPM variants and present analyses that suggest the SPM treatment of MOOP results in a less valid measure of elderly poverty and an overstatement of the elderly poverty rate (by up to 5.5 percentage points or 50 percent). Many elderly classified as poor by the SPM’s unlimited MOOP deduction are not poorly insured persons with incomes near the poverty line, but well-insured persons with incomes well above the poverty line.

papers.nber.org/papers/w18900

B. “Retirement Plan Type and Employee Mobility:  The Role of Selection and Incentive Effects,” by Gopi Shah Goda, Damon Jones, and Colleen Flaherty Manchester (w18902, March 2013, .pdf format, 49p.).

Abstract:

Employer-provided pension plans may affect employee mobility both through an “incentive effect,” where the bundle of benefit characteristics such as vesting rules, pension wealth accrual, risk, and liquidity affect turnover directly, and a “selection effect,” where employees with different underlying mobility tendencies select across plans or across firms with different types of plans. In this paper, we quantify the role of selection by exploiting a natural experiment at a single employer in which an employee’s probability of transitioning from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) pension plan was exogenously affected by default rules. Using regression discontinuity as well as differences-in-regression-discontinuities (DRD) methods, we find evidence that employees with higher mobility tendencies self-select into the DC plan. Our results suggest that selection likely contributes to the observed positive relationship between the transition from DB to DC plans and employee mobility in settings where employees sort into plans or employers. Counter to conventional wisdom, we find a negative direct effect of the DC plan on turnover relative to the DB plan, which underscores the multi-dimensional difference between these plans.

papers.nber.org/papers/w18902

C. “Financial Education and Choice in State Public Pension Systems,” by Julie Agnew and  Joshua Hurwitz (w18907, March 2013, .pdf format, 56p.).

Abstract:

As more and more public pension systems are shifting away from a defined benefit only framework, the complexity of the financial decisions facing public employees is increasing. This raises some concerns about the financial literacy of participants and their ability to make informed decisions. While surveys addressing financial education in private plans are available, little is known about what types of education and advice are offered in public plans. This paper fills this gap by presenting new results from the first National Public Pension Plan Financial Education Survey. The paper focuses specifically on primary defined contribution and hybrid plans. The results indicate that some form of education or advice is offered by every surveyed plan and that the sponsoring entity is actively involved in the development of the programs. However, it appears that legal uncertainties related to advice and education may be a problem for a few plans. In addition, more rigorous evaluation methods to test programs are needed. The paper concludes with suggestions for areas of future research.

papers.nber.org/papers/w18907

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