Assistant Professor in the Department of Policy and Management at Cornell University
In this paper, Professor Fitzpatrick documents evidence that an intergovernmental incentive inherent in public sector defined benefit pension systems distorts the amount and timing of income for public school teachers. This intergovernmental incentive stems from the fact that, in many states, local school districts are responsible for setting the compensation that determines the size of pensions, but are not required to make contributions to cover the resulting pension fund liabilities. She uses the introduction of a policy in Illinois that required experience-rating on compensation increases above a certain limit in a differences-in-differences framework to identify whether districts are willing to pay the full costs of their compensation promises. In response to the policy, the size and distribution of compensation changed significantly. On average, public school employees received lower wages largely through the removal of retirement bonuses.