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Andrew J. Rotherham

Chad Aldeman and I have a new paper out today about teacher pensions, Friends Without Benefits  (pdf). It looks at how the current approach to teacher pensions works in the context of broader retirement security issues.

If you’ve followed our work on teacher pensions you know that we see the fiscal problems facing teacher pension plans as a result of bad decisions by state policymakers and a corresponding lack of fiscal discipline as well as ill-considered benefit enhancements. Shoring that up is a fiscal sustainability issue. But there are also a broader set of design questions given what we know about the changing teacher workforce.  Friends Without Benefits is about those design issues and the impact they have on America’s largest class of B.A. workers.

In Friends Without Benefits we use state pension plan data to estimate how many teachers will qualify for at least a minimal pension benefit. Overall fewer than one in five teachers will stay long enough to reach their normal retirement age. But it varies, for instance,

  • At least two-thirds of teachers in Idaho, California, and Kentucky will qualify for a pension benefit.
  • Nine states—Maine, Vermont, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Wyoming, Texas, Nebraska, and Arizona—and the District of Columbia estimate that fewer than 10 percent of teachers will remain in the state system long enough to earn a secure retirement benefit.
  • Maine estimates that 86.1 percent of teachers will not qualify for a pension, and the District of Columbia estimates that four out of five beginning teachers will not.
  • Only about 25 percent of teachers will qualify in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Hawaii.
  • Fewer than 35 percent of teachers will stay long enough to qualify for a pension in Florida, Nebraska, Indiana, South Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Georgia, and North Carolina.
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