Does regulation matter? Riskiness and procyclicality in pension asset allocation

  • Ling-Ni Boon Ling-Ni Boon
  • Marie Brière Marie Brière
  • Sandra Rigot Sandra Rigot

We investigate the influence of investment regulations on the riskiness and procyclicality of defined-benefit (DB) pension funds’ asset allocations. We provide a global comparison of the regulatory framework for public, corporate and industry pension funds in the US, Canada and the Netherlands. Derived from panel data analysis of a unique set of close to 600 detailed funds’ asset allocations, our results highlight that regulatory factors are vitally important – more so than the funds’ individual and institutional characteristics, in shaping these asset allocations. In particular, risk-based capital requirements, balance sheet recognition of unfunded liabilities,lower liability discount rates, and shorter recovery periods lead pension funds to decrease their asset allocation to risky assets. Risk-based capital requirements reduce overall risky assetallocation by as much as 5%, mainly through alternatives. Our empirical results do not corroborate the theoretical predictions that risk-based capital requirements encourage procyclical investment.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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