Research & Analysis by John R. Woods
Estimates of total benefits paid by employer sponsored pension plans seem to vary widely between different data sources and measures. Such discrepancies have been used to support differing conclusions about the effectiveness of the pension system. This article examines several measures of aggregate pension benefits in 1990, a year particularly rich in available data. Exploratory analysis suggests that the greatest source of discrepancy lies in differing treatments of lump-sum distributions, although the study also identifies several other types of payments that are variously, and erroneously, counted as pension income. Age of recipients is an important factor in analyzing different measures of aggregate pension benefits; discrepancies are much smaller among the aged than in the population as a whole, The analysis also provides new evidence about the unequal distribution of pension benefits among the aged, confirming from two data sources that benefits are heavily concentrated among higher income groups.
Pension Coverage Among Private Wage and Salary Workers: Preliminary Findings From the 1988 Survey of Employee Benefits
Pension Coverage Among Private Wage and Salary Workers: Preliminary Findings from the 1988 Survey of Employee Benefits
Pension coverage is declining in the United States, and most of the decline can be attributed to decreasing coverage among younger workers. In addition, it appears that the types of pension coverage are shifting, with a decline in traditional pension plans and an increase in 401(k) plans.
These are perhaps the most important findings from a 1988 survey of American workers, similar to pension surveys in 1972, 1979, and 1983. The 1988 survey collected data from a sample representing 114 million workers who were currently employed. This paper examines patterns of pension coverage among all private wage and salary workers, but focuses on those working full time.