The impact of DC pension systems on population dynamics

Bonnie Jeanne MacDonald, A. J G Cairns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the risk inherent in defined contribution (DC) pension plans on an individual and aggregate basis, based on U.S. data. Our aim is to gain insight into the consequences of a DC pension scheme becoming the predominant pillar of retirement income for an entire society. Using the stochastic simulated output of a DC flexible age-of-retirement model, we first determine the optimal investment strategies. We then examine the demographic retirement dynamics of an entire population of DC pension plan participants. We observe that even for the most risk-averse plan members there is a high level of uncertainty in an individual's age at retirement. At the aggregate population level, we find that this uncertainty does not get dampened to any great extent by a diversification effect. Instead, the central role played by the market in determining retirement dates results in significant variation in the dependency ratio (the ratio of retirees to workers) over time. In addition, an attempt to ameliorate the outcome by introducing additional realistic features in the DC population modeling did little to dampen this volatility, which suggests that countries dominated by DC schemes of this type may, over time, be exposed to significant risk in the size of its labor force.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-48
Number of pages32
JournalNorth American Actuarial Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of DC pension systems on population dynamics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this