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State and Local Pensions: What Now? Hardcover – September 12, 2012

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State and Local Pensions: What Now? + The Future of Public Employee Retirement Systems (Pensions Research Council) + Pension Finance: Putting the Risks and Costs of Defined Benefit Plans Back Under Your Control
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press; 1 edition (September 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815724128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815724124
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"State and local pensions are much in the news, but the current discussion largely ignores why some plans are in financial trouble while others are not. Drawing on extensive research, Munnell cogently explores the diversity of past actions, current circumstances and needs, and opportunities for reform. This book is the essential starting place for thinking about and reforming pensions." —Peter Diamond, Institute Professor and professor of economics, emeritus, MIT, and 2010 Nobel Laureate

"Munnell offers a thoughtful examination of the challenges facing state and local governments as they strive to provide retirement security for their employees. Her work represents a giant leap forward by establishing a comprehensive framework for leaders looking to tackle these critical issues." —Gina Raimondo, general treasurer, State of Rhode Island

"Pensions for state and local employees generate ferocious debates among both the general public and pension experts, with serious repercussions for public sector pay and government budgets. Munnell explores this controversy with clarity and fairness, providing a critical resource for citizens who wish to understand public pensions and the policymakers who must manage them." —Andrew Biggs, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute

"Why does this book stand out? It's because Munnell has relied upon, and truthfully portrayed facts, to produce light, not heat. Moreover, uniquely, she places blame where it belongs without rancor and provides reasonably achievable solutions." —Ian Lanoff, attorney and public pension expert, Groom Law Group, Chartered

"This book is the most comprehensive assessment of public pensions yet compiled. Munnell evenhandedly challenges stereotypes and ideologues in describing the nuanced and consequential details of retirement benefits for employees of state and local government. Her book is indispensable for anyone with an interest in the nation's public retirement policy." —Keith Brainard, research director, National Association of State Retirement Administrators

About the Author

Alicia H. Munnell is the Peter F. Drucker Professor of Management Sciences, Carroll School of Management, and director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. She has served as assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy and as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. She was also cofounder and first president of the National Academy of Social Insurance. Munnell has written several books, including Brookings titles Working Longer: The Solution to the Retirement Income Challenge, with Steven Sass (2008), and Coming Up Short: The Challenge of 401(k) Plans, with Annika Sundén (2004).

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jr1 on December 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Covers the issues facing public pensions today in depth. Fact based approach and non political. Covers funding models, pros and cons of pensions and the accuracy of common conceptions about pensions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lt Wayne on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written text on the current state of public pensions. This book dispels common myths about the solvency of pension funds across the country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By financial economist on April 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Although this book contains some interesting data and history, its central thesis -- that state and local pension funds are for the most part in good shape -- is seriously flawed. The author supports the thesis with accounting figures which are well-known and well-documented by economists to understate liabilities and overstate funded status. The flawed accounting methods are legal and endorsed by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) but this doesn't make them right. The problem is that GASB rules allow public pension funds to take credit for the expected returns on risky investments before it is known whether or not risk-taking is successful. If one were to correct for this mistake, state and local pension funds are about 40%-50% funded, not the 75% claimed by the author (which is bad enough). Since the author's conclusion of good health rests on this mistake, the book is very misleading. In fact, public pension funds are in dire shape, with the dollar amount of underfunding in the vicinity of $4 trillion in aggregate. If you would like more information on how economists assess the funded status of pension funds, and why the GASB methods are misleading, look at the publications of Joshua Rauh.
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