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Title page for ETD etd-06272003-134452

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Burham, Kimberly Dawn
URN etd-06272003-134452
Title 401(k)s as Strategic Compensation: Align Pay with Productivity and Enable Optimal Separation
Degree Doctor of Philosophy
Department Economics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Byung - Joo Lee Committee Member
Sylvester J. Schieber Committee Member
Teresa Ghilarducci Committee Member
Thomas R. Swartz Committee Member
  • compensation methods and their effects
  • personnel economics
  • turnover
  • private pensions
  • labor productivity
  • retirement
Date of Defense 2003-06-16
Availability unrestricted
Companies are increasingly compensating employees with 401(k)s. Other forms of compensation, including defined benefit (DB) pensions, are thought to affect employee behavior and improve workforce productivity. Ippolito (1997) suggests that if individual discount rates and productivity are related then 401(k)s affect productivity. However, empirical results are limited to public sector employees and are inconclusive. Results presented in this paper from a new data set of a representative sample of private sector firms indicate that discount rates and productivity are negatively correlated. This allows 401(k)s, through the employer match, to align pay with productivity. Furthermore, additional tests show that 401(k)s increase workforce productivity by inducing less productive workers to leave their jobs in order to access 401(k) lump sum distributions. These results have implications for how 401(k)s affect workers, how firms should design their retirement plans, and for federal regulation and public pension plans such as Social Security.
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