Determinants of the Pension Curtailment Decisions of UK Firms

Mark Whittington, Paul Klumpes, Yong Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


During the last ten years of regulatory change, manyUKcompanies have curtailed their defined benefit pension scheme.We test three competing explanations of UK corporate pension curtailments: integration, separation and risk management. We predict and find an association between the use of managerial discretion over changes in UK firms’ expected rate of return on pension assets (ERR) assumptions, and subsequent decisions to curtail future defined benefit
pension obligations. These findings are consistent with a risk management-based explanation, even after controlling for other factors identified by prior literature as significant in explaining pension benefit reductions. We also find that curtailments and the risk management of ERR assumptions are associated with subsequent corporate restructuring decisions. The findings support the view that pension curtailment decisions are driven by the failure to adapt to new economic and regulatory pressures and that they are ultimately determined by strategic corporate risk management considerations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-924
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of business finance & accounting
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • ERR assumptions
  • pension curtailment decision


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