Pension Policy: The Search for Better Solutions by John A. Turner

By John A. Turner

Turner identifies the present difficulties dealing with pension coverage for U.S. employer-provided pension plans and recommends strategies to these difficulties in response to his exam of pension platforms in different industrialized countries.

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Additional info for Pension Policy: The Search for Better Solutions

Sample text

At the heart of the debate is whether mandates should supplement Social Security or partially replace it. Some people oppose mandates that replace Social Security, arguing that individual accounts may entail too much financial market risk, especially for financially vulnerable retirees (Gillion et al. 2000). Individual accounts that partially replace Social Security are also accompanied by high transition costs to pay the benefits already promised under the old Social Security system. Individual accounts that are add-ons to Social Security, however, may be viewed differently because they retain Social Security as the traditional base of retirement income.

The account could be established, for example, by parents of nonworking or disabled children. Participation in 401(k) Plans One of the surprises of pension policy during the 1990s was that some workers do not contribute to a 401(k) plan even though their employer offers a matching contribution. It was thought that the matching contribution, on top of the tax incentive, would provide a powerful incentive. At least five reasons may explain noncontribution, and thus nonparticipation, by workers eligible to participate in a 401(k) plan (Turner and Verma 2007).

This individual account system reflects a desire to increase the amount of 30 Turner prefunding in the Swedish retirement income system, and to move to a system with greater emphasis on the role of the capital market and individualism (Harrysson and O’Brien 2003). Through measures that took effect in 1999 and 2000, Sweden replaced its traditional defined benefit social security program with a notional account plan supplemented by a mandatory, funded individual account. A notional account system is one where each worker has an account that is credited with contributions and interest earnings.

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