The Future of Public Employee Retirement Systems

Pension Research Council

Abstract —At a recent Wharton Impact conference hosted by the Pension Research Council, an energetic cast of academics, financial experts, regulators, and plan sponsors examined the challenges facing public retirement systems in the US and around the world. Co-sponsored by The Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research and held at The Wharton School, the event included speakers who traced the evolution of public sector pensions and retiree health programs, compared public with private sector pay and benefits, and took up public policy concerns regarding accounting and management in public employee plans in the United States, focusing on ways to properly measure liabilities and how to make the plans more cost effective. The discussion also included analysis of defined contribution versus defined benefit plans for the public sector, and funding of federal retirement systems, both civilian and military. International lessons were brought to bear with a discussion of reforms in the German, the Japanese, and the Canadian public employee plans.