Pensions and K-12 Teacher Retirement: An Analysis Using National Teacher Data Jan 01, 2011 By Leora FriedbergSarah Turner Pensions and K-12 Teacher Retirement: An Analysis Using National Teacher Data The retirement security landscape has changed drastically for most workers over the last thirty years – except for public school teachers and other state and local government employees. Many private-sector employers have stopped offering traditional retirement plans, while most state and local employees remain covered by defined benefit (DB) pension plans. Research shows that DB plans have had strong effects on worker retention in the private sector, as workers delayed retirement until they cash in on large pension wealth accruals late in their careers and then retire abruptly. We explore these effects for teachers, using data that includes measures of teacher qualifications and job satisfaction. We find that dissatisfied teachers respond much more to pension incentives than satisfied teachers do, first delaying retirement while pension wealth is still accumulating and then retiring abruptly. Research Dialogue Areas of focus Education Leora Friedberg Read full bio Sarah Turner Read full bio Related Content Leora Friedberg Labor market aspects of state and local retirement plans: a review of evidence and a blueprint for future research Research Traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans remain the overwhelming norm for teachers, policemen and other employees of state and local governments. The incentives for workers with DB pension plans to stay in their jobs shift dramatically over the course of their careers. Labor Market Effects of Pensions and Implications for Teachers Research While the retirement security landscape has changed drastically for most workers over the last twenty years, traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans remain the overwhelming norm for K–12 teachers. Because DB plans pay off fully with a fixed income after retirement only if a teacher stays in the profession for decades and yield little or nothing if a teacher leaves early, DB plans induce a strong, nonlinear relationship between years of tenure and benefit accrual. Sarah Turner The Right Way to Capture College “Opportunity”: Popular Measures Can Paint the Wrong Picture of Low-Income Student Enrollment Research Higher education may be one of the most important channels through which people can attain improved life outcomes based on their merit rather than family background. If qualified students from lower-income families are underrepresented in higher education, there is potentially a failure not just in equity but in economic efficiency as well. Cohort Crowding: How Resources Affect Collegiate Attainment Research Analyses of college attainment typically focus on factors affecting enrollment demand, including the financial attractiveness of a college education and the availability of financial aid, while implicitly assuming that resources available per student on the supply side of the market are elastically supplied. The higher education market in the United States is dominated by public and non-profit production, and colleges and universities receive considerable subsidies from state, federal, and private sources.