Flanders, S., Nungsari, M., & Parada‐Contzen, M. (2019). Pricing schemes and market efficiency in private retirement systems. Journal of Public Economic Theory, 22(4), 1041–1068.

Sam Flanders & Melati Nungsari | ASB Faculty | Research Paper


Discipline: Economics

We study the effects of different pricing schemes on the overall surplus in a privately managed retirement system with multiple service providers and switching costs. We develop a theoretical model based on the Chilean retirement system and consider a repeated auction for monopoly rights over new enrollees. We consider a dynamic model solved by pension fund administrators and by consumers. We compare three different pricing schemes: (a) fees on contributions, (b) fees on returns, and (c) a two‐part tariff including an auction over a guaranteed rate of return and allowing the firm to keep a portion of returns generated above this guaranteed rate.

We also consider heterogeneity across individuals where agents earn high or low wages and high‐wage customers have proportionally lower switching costs due to more cost‐effective access to financial planning services. We find that auction participants subsidize consumers. We also treat savings as a durable good. In this case, pricing over returns worsens the switching related inefficiencies just described relative to pricing over contributions, despite the better incentives it provides. These inefficiencies can be resolved by allowing firms to price discriminate.