NIRS Research Reports and Issue Briefs focus on informing the public policy debate around important retirement security issues. Through high-quality and reliable research, our goal is to identify sensible solutions that build broad-based retirement security.
NIRS has issued more than 25 Research Reports and Issue Briefs:
- The Financial Security Scorecard: A State-by-State Analysis of Economic Pressures Facing Future Retirees gauges the relative performance of the fifty states and the District of Columbia in three key areas: anticipated retirement income; major retirement costs like housing and healthcare; and labor market conditions for older workers. Download the report here.
- Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States (December 2013) calculates the severity of the U.S. retirement security
racial divide. Americans of color are
significantly less likely than whites to have an employer-sponsored
retirement plan or an individual retirement account (IRA), which
substantially drives down the level of retirement savings. Download the report here.
- Lessons for Private Sector Retirement Security from Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands (August 2013) provides international perspectives on retirement security by
outlining social security and universal, quasi-universal, and voluntary
employer-provided retirement plans in Australia, Canada, and the
Download the report here.
- The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think? (June 2013) uses the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances to analyze
retirement plan participation, savings, and overall assets of all U.S.
households. The research finds retirement savings are dangerously low, and the U.S.
retirement savings deficit is between $6.8 and $14.0 trillion. Download the report here.
- Pensions & Retirement Security 2013: A Roadmap for Policy Makers (February 2013) outlines public opinion research that finds Americans remain highly anxious about
their retirement prospects (85 percent) and would participate in a new
pension system to help rebuild the road to retirement (81 percent).
Download the report here.
- How do Public Pension Invest? A Primer (January 2013) This primer provides a comprehensive overview of the public pensions
investment process, focusing on how public pensions allocate assets and set expected
rates of return. Download the brief here.
- On the Right Track? Public Pension Reforms in the Wake of the Financial Crisis (December 2012) examines key factors that have contributed to private and public
employers’ pension decisions, and builds upon a 2008 analysis, “Look Before You Leap ” documenting costs associated with closing a pension plan.Download the brief here.
- The Great Recession: Pressures on Public Pensions, Employment Relations and Reforms
(November 2012) examines the workforce impacts of existing defined
benefit pension plan to asses the likely effects of switching to a
defined contribution individual account or cash-balance plan. Download
the brief here.
- Federal Employees' Retirement System and the Thrift Savings Plan: Creating a Combined Approach to Retirement Security
(August 2012) reviews the history of the FERS and TSP and how discourse
on retirement policy has changed since 1986. Download the brief here.
- The Pension Factor 2012: Assessing the Role of Defined Benefit Plans in Reducing Elder Economic Hardships
(July 2012) finds rates of poverty among older households lacking
pension income were approximately nine times greater than the rates
among older households with DB pension income in 2010, up from six times
greater in 2006 a new study calculates. Download the report here.
- Pensionomics 2012: Measuring the Economic Impact of DB Pension Expenditures (March 2012) A new national economic impact study finds that DB pension benefits have
a significant economic impact: 6.5 million American jobs and $1
trillion in economic output. Download the report here.
- The Three Rs of Teacher Pension Plans (October 2011) analyzes the effectiveness of defined benefit (DB) pensions on teacher
retention and productivity, and finds that pensions play a critical role in
recruiting and retaining productive teachers. Download the brief here.
- A Better Bang for New York City's Buck (October 2011) finds that New York City’s defined benefit pension plans can deliver the same retirement income at nearly 40% lower cost than a defined contribution 401(k)-type individual account. Download the report here.
- Decisions, Decisions: Retirement Plan Choices for Public Employees and Employers (September 2011) finds that defined benefit (DB) pensions are strongly preferred over 401(k)-type defined contribution (DC) accounts. Download the report here.
- Lessons from Well-Funded Public Pensions: An Analysis of Six Plans that Weathered the Financial Storm (June 2011) examines selected defined benefit public pension plans to identify common elements of plans that remained well funded despite two severe economic downturns. Download the report here.
- Pensions and Retirement Security 2011: A Roadmap for Policymakers (March 2011) finds an overwhelming majority of Americans believe the nation’s
retirement infrastructure is crumbling and stock market volatility makes
it impossible to predict retirement savings. Download the report here.
- Who Killed the Private Sector DB Plan? (March 2011) finds that funding volatility, not pension costs, is the primary reason
that defined benefit pension coverage has declined for private sector
workers. It also identifies opportunities to reverse the trend. Download
the brief here.
- Raising the Bar: Policy Solutions for Improving Retirement Security (July 2010) summarizes retirement policy action common ground identified at NIRS 1st annual retirement policy conference. Download the report here.
- Out of Balance: Comparing Public and Private Sector Compensation Over 20 Years (April 2010) finds that employees of state and local government earn an average of 11% and 12% less, respectively, than comparable private sector employees. Download the report here.
- The Pension Factor: Assessing the Role of Defined Benefit Plans in Reducing Elder Hardships (July 2009) finds rates of poverty among older households lacking pension income were about six times greater than those with such income. Download the report here.
- The Staying Power of Pensions in the Public Sector (May 2009) finds that pensions
are an effective tool to meet the objectives of employers, employees
and taxpayers and should not mimic the private sector trend away from
pensions. Download the brief here.
- Shattering the Retirement Glass Ceiling: Women Need a Three-Legged Stool
(May 2009) finds that women remain at a higher risk for retirement insecurity than
men. Than risk can be reduced with the combination of a traditional
pension, supplemental 401(k)-type individual savings, and Social
Security. Download the brief here.
- Pensionomics: Measuring the Economic Impact of State and Local Pension Plans (February 2009) find that pension benefit expenditures by retirees leave a large economic footprint: 2.5 million jobs and $358 billion in economic output. Download the report here.
- Pensions and Retirement Security: A Roadmap for Policy Makers (January 2009) finds a high level of retirement concerns across America, with strong support for pensions. Download the report here.
- In it for the Long Haul: The Investment Behavior of Public Pensions (November 2008) finds that these plans are prudent investors in bull and bear markets. Download the report here.
- Look Before You Leap: The Unintended Consequences of Pension Freezes
(October 2008) finds that freezing a DB plan can have serious and unintended
consequences -- increased costs, reduced benefits, or some combination
thereof. Download the brief here.
- The New Intersection on the Road to Retirement: Public Pensions, Economics, Perceptions, Poltics, and Interest Groups (September 2008) was published by Oxford University Press
as a chapter in University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Pension
Research Council volume, "The Future of Public Employee Retirement
- A Better Bang for the Buck: The Economic Efficiencies of DB Plans (August 2008) finds that the efficiencies of pension enable them to deliver the same retirement income at 46% lower cost than an individual defined contribution (DC) account. Download the report here.
- Patience is a Virtue: Asset Allocation Patterns of DB & DC Plans
(July 2008) finds that the shift from DB to DC plans may have reduced the supply of
patient capital over time, meaning that businesses may have a harder
time than in the past getting the financing for long-term productive
investment projects. Download the brief here.
- Retirement Readiness: What Difference Does a Pension Make?
(May 2008) reviews the role of pensions in enabling Americans to be
self-sufficient in retirement. It also examines recent trends in pension
coverage, and discusses areas worthy of exploration for policymakers.
Download the brief here.