The Geography of Pension Liabilities and Fund Governance in the United States

42 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2007


If finance is the engine driving economic and geographic change, then pensions are its primary vehicle. On the one hand, pension plan assets, which approached $18 trillion dollars in 2005 for OECD countries, are having global impacts on financial markets. On the other hand, pension plan liabilities, larger than the assets in nominal terms, are also having dramatic impacts on plan sponsors. If assets are not properly managed, pension liabilities can threaten the financial solvency of plan sponsors. Consequently, as institutions with enormous and growing financial and political importance, this paper contends that the procedures governing pension plans are of increasing importance for economic geographers. In this paper, the effectiveness of the current governance system is tested through a widely subscribed 'expert survey'. Then, the relationship between pension fund governance and economic geography is demonstrated through case study. The paper concludes that the current governance model remains inadequate. Moreover, poor pension fund governance, in addition to having an economic cost, is shown to have tangible geographic impacts.

Keywords: Pension Fund, Pension Liabilities, Governance, Finance, Social Welfare

Suggested Citation

Monk, Ashby, The Geography of Pension Liabilities and Fund Governance in the United States. Available at SSRN: or

Ashby Monk (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

United States

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