Maintaining Pension Solvency

One of the biggest challenges facing governments is determining how to adequately fund present and future pension benefits for their employees. While public employees are working, if a sufficient amount of money is set aside for them each year and invested competently, then by the time the employee retires, their fund balance should be adequate to draw down each month to pay their pension, yet not be fully depleted until after they’ve died. As will be seen, however, unless some very optimistic scenarios are used as the basis for projecting future pension solvency, the amounts that are currently being contributed to public employee pension funds are grossly inadequate.

While the calculation of how much money needs to be set aside each month to build up an adequate pension fund is not simple, it is not so complex or arcane as to defy analysis by policymakers, journalists and commentators, voters, employee advocates, or anyone else concerned with this issue.

In the analysis to follow, four cases are presented, each one calculating what percentage of payroll must be allocated to annual pension funding under various assumptions. These cases concern the pension of a single individual, but when assessing the sustainability of public employee pension benefits, these calculations apply in aggregate as well.

In the four examples below, the same assumptions are made for each individual pension fund chronology – the individual enters public employment at age 25, works until they are 55, and dies at age 85. All calculations and assumptions deal […] Read More