The Decline of Defined Benefit Retirement Plans and Asset Flows

James Poterba, Steven Venti, David Wise

NBER Retirement Research Center Paper No. NB 06-01
Issued in December 2006

Demographic change can have an important effect on the stock of assets held in defined benefit pension plans. This paper projects the impact of changes in the age structure of the U.S. population between 2005 and 2040 on the stock of assets held by these plans. It projects the contributions to and withdrawals from these plans. These projections are combined with estimates of the future evolution of assets in 401(k)-like plans to describe the prospective impact of demographic change on the stock of assets in retirement plans. Information on demography-linked changes in asset demand is a critical input to evaluating the potential impact of population aging on asset returns.

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