Robert Smith

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

November 1991Pension Funding in the Public Sector
with Olivia S. Mitchell: w3898
This paper explores the determinants of pension funding in the public sector. We formulate and test several hypotheses about the determinants of public employer pension funding practices, using a new data set describing financial and other characteristics of state, local, and teacher plans. The data show that, on average, public sector pension plans were relatively well-funded during the late 1980s. There were, however, wide variations in funding practices in our sample. Our analysis of these variations suggests that past funding practice tends to be perpetuated, that unionized employers are less likely to fully fund future pension obligations, and that funding is sensitive to fiscal pressure.

Published: Review of Economics and Statistics, May 1994, pp. 278-290. citation courtesy of

September 1984Comparable Worth in the Public Sector
with Ronald G. Ehrenberg: w1471
Proponents of comparable worth assert that within a firm jobs can be valued in terms of the skill, effort and responsibility they require, as well as the working conditions they offer, and that jobs that are of comparable worth to the firm should receive equal compensation. After documenting the major push that has occurred for comparable worth in the state and local sector, Section II of our paper discusses the case for and against comparable worth from the perspective of analystical economists.The reminder of the paper is empirical in nature and focuses on issues that arise when one attempts to implement comparable worth. Section III addresses attempts by various states to infer if comparable worth "wage gaps" exist from job evaluation studies they have conducted and tests how sensitive ...


  • Ehrenberg, Ronald G. and Robert S. Smith."Comparable Worth Wage Adjustmentand Female Employment in the Public Sector," Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 5, No. 1, January 1987, pp. 43-62.
  • Ehrenberg, Ronald G. and Robert S. Smith. "Comparable Worth in the Public Sector," Public Sector Payrolls, ed David A. Wise, Chicago: UCP, 1987.

October 1983Economic and Statistical Analysis of Discrimination in Hiring
with Ronald G. Ehrenberg: w1222
Legal and administrative determinations of employers' compliance with "equal employment opportunity" (EEO) requirements often hinge on the issue of the availability of protected class members to employers. That is,courts and affirmative action review agencies compare the hire rates of protected class members (the ratio of the number of protected class members hired to the number who applied or who were potentially available) to the comparable ratio for other applicants, in assessing whether an employer's hiring policies meet the standards required of them by equal opportunity regulations. The purpose of this paper is to review what economic theory suggests affects availability and to analyze the extent to which these factors are considered in administrative or judicial decisions concerning...

Published: Ehrenberg, Ronald G. and Robert S. Smith. "Economic and Statistical Analysis of Discrimination in Hiring." Proceedings of the 36 Annual Meetings ofthe Industrial Relations Research Association, ed. by Barbara Dennis, (1984), pp. 22-33.

December 1981Estimating Wage-Fringe Trade-Offs: Some Data Problems
with Ronald G. Ehrenberg: w0827
Our paper attempts to identify the types of data nee3ed to estimate tradeoffs between wages and fringe benefits (such as pensions); it also explores the usefulness for this estimation of one particular employer- based data set collected by gay Associates. We stress three things: first, that employer-based data sets are required. Second, because pensions and many other fringe benefits are actuarial functions of wages or salaries, these technical relationships must be accounted for in estimation. Third, to take account of unobservable heterogeneity of employees across employers, one must use econometric methods that control for these unobservable variables. The paper concludes with a discussion of our attempts to estimate the tradeoff between wages and fringe benefits using a unique database...

Published: Smith, Robert S. and Ronald Ehrenberg. "Estimating Wage-Fringe Trade-Offs: Some Data Problems." The Measurement of Labor Cost, edited by Jack E. Triplett. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, (1983).

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