Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Matthew Magilke

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© 2014 Roberto C. Garcia


Roughly 40 million American active and retired workers are covered by local, state or federal pension systems. The most recent financial crises has caused many of these pension systems to go up in flames, leaving politicians and economists puzzled as to where the money to pay off their future pension liabilities will come from. To add to the nightmare situation, we can expect the retirement of the baby-boomers over the next decade to exacerbate the conflagration. With less contributions coming in from the reduced number of active public employees, and more to pay out to retirees, many localities and states find themselves in the middle of the fire. This issue finds itself at the crossroads of politics, labor economics, accounting, and finance, and it will take a full-fledged effort from parties within all these fields to correct the mistakes of the past. The aim of this paper is to zero-in on the origins of this dilemma, diagnose the situation we find ourselves in today, and prescribe a solution or number of solutions to implement in the near future. To accomplish this, I will examine accounting standards, legislation, public policies, and labor demographics and attempt to provide insight as to how all of these affect the state of public pension plans. To this date we have already seen the effects pensions can have on governmental entities and it is important that people act now to prevent this issue from growing more widespread.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.