The Effect of Regulations on Pension Risk Shifting: Evidence from the US and Europe

Yanling GUAN*, Daphne Lui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides evidence that pension regulations can incentivize or curb risk shifting in the investment of defined benefit plan assets. We document that in the US, where the pension insurance premium charged by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is largely flat, financially distressed firms with severely underfunded plans shift pension investment risk. We further find that risk shifting is mitigated in the UK after the implementation of risk-adjusted pension insurance premiums, and in the Netherlands where full pension funding is mandatory. Overall the results in this paper lend support to the view that structural flaws in the US statutory pension insurance scheme incentivize high-risk sponsors to gamble their pension assets when distress terminations of their plans become foreseeable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-799
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Business Finance and Accounting
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Accounting
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Finance

User-Defined Keywords

  • financial distress
  • moral hazard
  • pension investment
  • pension regulations
  • risk shifting


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