Survey Finds Pensions Play Role in Retaining Teachers Nationwide

October 31, 2011 ( - A new study suggests defined benefit pensions play a critical role in recruiting and retaining highly productive teachers. 

According to a news release, this increases each school’s level of effectiveness, thereby benefitting students. Additionally, DB pensions save school districts money by reducing expensive teacher turnover costs, the study report contends.

The Three Rs of Teacher Pension Plans: Recruitment, Retention, and Retirement, found :
•  The cost of teacher turnover is quite high, both in terms of financial cost and loss of productivity to the school district. Additionally, public school teachers turn over less than private school teachers, largely due to their compensation, including pension benefits.
•  DB pension plans help to recruit high quality teachers, and to retain highly productive teachers longer, as compared with defined contribution (DC) individual retirement accounts.
•  In 2003, DB pensions helped to retain an additional 22,000 teachers nationwide. Because longer tenured teachers are more effective teachers, the increased retention that DB pensions bring increases the overall quality of public education.
•  Because the cost of teacher turnover is substantial, the retention effects of DB pension plans also save school districts money. In 2003, DB pensions saved school districts $273.2 million nationally in teacher turnover costs.


Ilana Boivie, report author and economist with the National Institute on Retirement Security, said in the news release, “Education policy literature is clear: teachers become more effective as they gain experience. Research also shows that DB pension benefits, which provide a modest, reliable income in retirement, are an essential tool for retaining these highly effective teachers. Moreover, pensions help reduce the high cost of teacher turnover to school districts and taxpayers. These cost savings are a particularly important consideration for state and local policymakers striving to improve education, yet continuing to struggle with highly strained budgets.”

The study is available at