The Crisis in Public Sector Pension Plans: A Blueprint for Reform in New Jersey
George Mason University Mercatus Center Working Paper No. 10-31
34 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2012
Date Written: June 23, 2010
Pension plans operated by state governments on behalf of their employees are underfunded by an estimated $452 billion according to official reports,1 with total liabilities of $2.8 trillion and total assets of $2.3 trillion in 2008. However, many economists argue that even these daunting liabilities are understated. Current public sector accounting methods allow plans to assume they can earn highv investment returns without any risk. Using methods that are required for private sector pensions, which value pension liabilities according to likelihood of payment rather than the return expected on pension assets, total liabilities amount to $5.2 trillion and the unfunded liability rises to $3 trillion. The ability of governments to pay for the retirement benefits promised to public sector workers runs up against the reality of limited resources.
Keywords: Public Pensions, State Employees
JEL Classification: H55
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation