The Political Economy of Underfunded Municipal Pension Plans
62 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2016 Last revised: 28 Jun 2021
Date Written: June 2016
This paper analyzes the determinants of underfunding of local government's pension funds using a politico-economic overlapping generations model. We show that a binding downpayment constraint in the housing market dampens capitalization of future taxes into current land prices. Thus, a local government's pension funding policy matters for land prices and the utility of young households. Underfunding arises in equilibrium if the pension funding policy is set by the old generation. Young households instead favor a policy of full funding. Empirical results based on cross-city comparisons in the magnitude of unfunded liabilities are consistent with the predictions of the model.
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