NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Pension Substitution in the 1980s: Why the Shift Toward Defined Contribution Pension Plans?

Douglas L. Kruse

NBER Working Paper No. 3882
Issued in October 1991
NBER Program(s):   LS

The relative decline of defined benefit (DB) pension plans, and growth of defined contribution (DC) plans, has been often noted but not extensively explored. This paper reports on the construction of a new longitudinal company-based dataset on pension plans for the years 1980-86 (including all U.S. companies with large plans, and a 10% sample of companies with small plans, within this period). Among the findings are that the decline in DB coverage is primarily due to fewer participants in companies maintaining such plans, while very little of the growth in DC coverage is due to companies terminating DB plans. Also, multinomial logit analysis of manufacturing company choices indicates that the higher administrative costs of DB plans play a statistically significant, but small, role in their decline, while new pension adopters in less stable industries are more likely to choose DC plans.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3882

Published: Industrial Relations, Vol. 34, no. 2 (April 1995): 218-241.

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