Are City Fiscal Woes Widespread? Are Pensions The Cause?

New Center for Excellence issue brief

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Detroit's bankruptcy and Chicago's pension problems have prompted a wave of speculation about city finances. What are the facts?

A new issue brief from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, Are City Fiscal Woes Widespread? Are Pensions the Cause?, explores the extent to which economic factors, poor fiscal management, and/or high pension costs contribute to the challenges cities with financial problems face.

Written by Alicia H. Munnell, Jean-Pierre Aubry, Josh Hurwitz, and Mark Carafelli of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the brief's key findings include:

  • Only a small number of cities overall face serious financial troubles and one-third of them are in California.
  • Pensions are a minor factor in financially troubled cities; fiscal mismanagement tops the list, followed by economic problems.

The underlying problems in financially troubled cities have been decades in the making:  population loss, declining tax bases, and other patterns of fiscal mismanagement.

Read the full brief at

Access all Center retirement research at

About the Center for State and Local Government Excellence
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence helps state and local governments become knowledgeable and competitive employers so they can attract and retain a talented and committed workforce. The Center identifies best practices and conducts research on competitive employment practices, workforce development, pensions, retiree health security, and financial planning. The Center also brings state and local leaders together with respected researchers and features the latest demographic data on the aging workforce, research studies, and news on health care, recruitment, and succession planning on its website,

SOURCE Center for State and Local Government Excellence


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