Defined contribution plans: the role of income, age and match rates
The growth of defined contribution plans has sparked debate concerning their effectiveness as a vehicle for retirement saving. Using data from the May 1993 Employee Benefits Supplement to the Current Population Survey, this paper examines whether DC plans have expanded overall pension coverage and whether their effects on retirement saving are the same across different age and income groups. Not surprisingly, I find that contributions to and early withdrawals from DC plans are strongly affected by income and age. The paper then discusses whether employer match rates are useful tools for ...
Stock market valuation indicators: is this time different?
Record low dividend yields and record high market-to-book ratios in recent months have led many market watchers to conclude that these indicators now behave differently from how they have in the past. This paper examines the relationship between traditional market indicators and stock performance, and then addresses two popular claims that the meaning of these indicators has changed in recent years. The first is that dividend yields are permanently lower now than in the past because firms have increased their use of share repurchases as a tax-advantaged substitute for dividends. The second ...
The Americanization of Japanese management
Downward nominal wage rigidity: evidence from the employment cost index
We examine the extent of downward nominal wage rigidity using the microdata underlying the BLS employment cost index--an extensive, establishment-based dataset with detailed information on wage and benefit costs. We find stronger evidence of downward nominal wage rigidity than did previous studies using panel data on individuals. Firms appear able to circumvent part, but not all, of this rigidity by varying benefits: Total compensation displays modestly less rigidity than do wages alone. Given our estimated amount of rigidity, a simple model predicts that the disinflation over the 1980s would ...
It's time to tax employee benefits
Is there an inflation puzzle?
Why has U.S. inflation failed to accelerate despite six years of continuing economic expansion. The authors investigate whether compensation growth has played a role, either as a temporary restraint on inflation or as the underlying source of a new inflation regime. They offer two pieces of evidence suggesting that compensation growth has in fact acted as a temporary curb on rising prices. First, they show that the forecasting performance of a traditional Phillips curve model begins to break down in late 1993. When a measure of compensation growth is incorporated, however, the stability of ...
Has compensation become more flexible?
In recent years, numerous observers have argued that global competition, increased reliance on contingent workers, and the breakdown of implicit contracts have made compensation practices in the United States more flexible; in particular, employers have become more concerned with how an employee's pay compares to that in other firms and less concerned with considerations of equity or relative pay within the firm. This paper uses establishment-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Cost Index program to examine this claim by asking whether the variances of compensation ...
The decline of fringe-benefit coverage in the 1980s
Is there an inflation puzzle?
This paper investigates the issue of an "inflation puzzle", or the lack of an acceleration in inflation during the current expansion. Our findings indicate that while inflation has appeared to be unusually low, we can account for this feature of the data over most of the current expansion. In particular, the results support the view that the weak increase in compensation growth during the period 1992-94 was a major contributor to the low level of inflation observed through late 1995. ; More recently, however, there is evidence of an anomaly in the behavior of inflation. The out-of-sample ...