State and Local Retirement Plans in the United States
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State and Local Retirement Plans in the United States

Robert L. Clark, Lee A. Craig and John Sabelhaus

State and Local Retirement Plans in the United States explains how economic and political events have shaped the development of pension plans in the last century, and it argues that changes in the structure and generosity of these plans will continue to shape policy and funding in the future. It also brings to bear a new rationale to the policies behind public sector pension plans. The authors use the history of how early public pension plans were established, how they matured and how they have grown in generosity to analyse what changes may be expected in years to come. Unique in its scope, this comprehensive history of the development of public sector pension plans in the United States during the twentieth century expands upon current ideas relating to the changing economic environment, the passage and evolution of social security, and the expansion of the public sector.
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Chapter 5: Pension Plans for Public School Teachers

Robert L. Clark, Lee A. Craig and John Sabelhaus


The first retirement plans for public school teachers were established in the late nineteenth century. Initially, those plans covered only teachers in single school districts and were most often found in larger municipalities (Clark et al., 2003). During the twentieth century, many of those local retirement plans were merged to form a state teachers’ retirement plan, often covering all of the school districts in a state. In most states, retirement plans for teachers predate the establishment of plans for other state employees. Indeed, some states did not establish plans for civil servants until the 1970s (see Chapter 6).1 During the second half of the twentieth century, many states merged their plans for teachers with those covering other state employees, thus creating a single state retirement plan that covered both civil servants and teachers. As of 2008, 23 states had a single retirement plan covering state employees and teachers; while the remaining states retained separate pension plans for at least some public school teachers.2 Several states also managed separate plans for local government employees, and in some states the local plans were merged with those for other state employees and/or teachers (see Chapter 7). In this chapter, we review the evolution of retirement plans for teachers, focusing on the late twentieth century. Specifically, we review changes in the generosity of teacher plans in the last decades of the century, and we analyse differences in retirement benefits between plans that cover only teachers and plans that cover teachers and other state...

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