nep-age New Economics Papers
on Economics of Ageing
Issue of 2010‒08‒21
four papers chosen by
Claudia Villosio
LABORatorio R. Revelli

  1. Work and Retirement: How and When Older Americans Leave the Labor Force By Joseph F. Quinn
  2. Poverty Target Programs for The Elderly In India: With Special Reference to National Old Age Pension Scheme, 1995 By Anand Kumar; Navneet Anand
  3. Pension Participation and Uncovered Workers By Nadia Karamcheva; Geoffrey Sanzenbacher
  4. The impact of scale, complexity, and service quality on the administrative costs of pension funds: A cross-country comparison By Jacob Bikker; Onno Steenbeek; Federico Torracchi

  1. By: Joseph F. Quinn (Boston College)
    Date: 2010–06–15
  2. By: Anand Kumar; Navneet Anand
    Abstract: This paper looks into various aspects of the old age pension debate and related policies in India. In the analysis that follows, we address issues such as: the identity of the drivers of change; the political context in which many of these policies emerged; the intrinsic relationship between poverty and old age problems; state ideology; and the design and implementation of related policies.
    Keywords: old age, pension, pverty, political context, state ideology
    Date: 2010
  3. By: Nadia Karamcheva; Geoffrey Sanzenbacher
    Abstract: In 2008, the Obama campaign proposed a “Plan to Strengthen Retirement Security.” This plan consisted of items ranging from increasing the threshold of the Social Security payroll tax to expanding the Saver’s Credit for families earning under $75,000. One of the more far-reaching proposals would require employers with 10 or more employees to automatically enroll their employees in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). As a default, 3 percent of each worker’s earnings would be invested in a low-risk portfolio, but workers could choose to change the defaults or opt out of the plan. Employers would not be required to make a matching contribution, but employees who participate would be eligible for the expanded Saver’s Credit.1 The purpose of the “Auto-IRA” is to increase the pension participation of all workers, but particularly low-income workers. Yet, it is unclear how many of these workers would participate. Our own research using the Survey of Income and Program Participation indicates that 60 percent of low-income workers currently eligible for voluntary 401(k) plans, similar to IRAs, choose to participate in those plans. And other research suggests that when workers are automatically enrolled in a 401(k) plan, they are even more likely to participate.2 However, these numbers are based on individuals who have a 401(k) available to them. It seems likely that these individuals may have sought out jobs offering such plans with an intention of participating. If so, workers who did not seek employment offering pensions may be less likely to participate in the IRA plan, limiting the program’s success in expanding pension participation. This brief explores the participation issue and estimates how many workers would participate if 401(k)-type coverage were extended to those who currently lack it. The first section summarizes trends in pension coverage. The second section describes the data and methodology used for estimating participation, while the third discusses the results. The final section concludes that, while offering convenient savings options to low-income workers should help improve their retirement security, fewer individuals may take advantage of the opportunity than policymakers hope.
    Keywords: private pensions
    Date: 2010–08
  4. By: Jacob Bikker; Onno Steenbeek; Federico Torracchi
    Abstract: Administrative costs per participant appear to vary widely across pension funds in different countries. These costs are important because they reduce the rate of return on the investments of pension funds, and consequently raise the cost of retirement security. Using unique data on 90 pension funds over the period 2004–2008, this paper examines the impact of scale, the complexity of pension plans, and service quality on the administrative costs of pension funds, and compares those costs across Australia , Canada , the Netherlands , and the US . We find that, except for Canada , large unused economies of scale exist. Analyses on a disaggregated level confirm economies of scale for small and medium pension funds. Even though the pension funds in the sample are among the largest in the world, further cost savings appear to be possible. Higher service quality and more complex pension plans significantly raise costs, whereas offering only one pension plan reduces costs, as does a relatively large share of deferred (or sleeping) participants. Administrative costs vary significantly across pension fund types, with differences amounting to 100%.
    Keywords: Pension funds; Administrative costs; Scale economies; Service level; Complexity; Optimal scale
    JEL: G23
    Date: 2010–08

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