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The Employment-Based Pension System: Evolution or Revolution?

12 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2006  

John A. MacDonald

Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)


Where are retirement plans headed, and why? The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) held a day-long conference May 15, 2006, in Washington, DC, to examine those questions. Several speakers at the conference, formally titled "The Employment-Based Pension System: Evolution or Revolution?" predicted that the evolution currently under way will lead to radical change and the ultimate demise of private-sector defined benefit pension plans. The next day many Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations aired a Frontline program entitled "Can You Afford to Retire?" which highlighted these issues, and raised many other questions about Americans' preparations for retirement. PBS Frontline producer and reporter Hedrick Smith previewed the program at the conference. This paper presents key points that emerged from the conference.

Keywords: 401(k) plans, Defined benefit plans, Defined contribution plans, Employment-based benefits, Pension plan coverage, Retirement income, Retirement planning

JEL Classification: J26, J33

Suggested Citation

MacDonald, John A., The Employment-Based Pension System: Evolution or Revolution?. EBRI Notes, Vol. 27, No. 7, July 2006. Available at SSRN:

John A. MacDonald (Contact Author)

Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) ( email )

1100 13th Street, NW
Suite 878
Washington, DC 20005-4204
United States
202-775-6349 (Phone)

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