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Administrative fees and costs of mandatory private pensions in transition economies

By ANTON DOBRONOGOV and MAMTA MURTHI

Abstract

This paper discusses fees and costs of pension companies in transition economies drawing on examples from four countries Croatia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Poland where second pillar pensions have the longest history of implementation. It finds that at current levels, charges are likely to reduce returns on individual account balances by around 1% per annum on average. Exact rates vary by country and company. Fee structures are complex and, generally speaking, poorly understood by consumers. The limited information on costs that is available suggests that, by and large, companies are able to meet their operating costs within a few years after starting operations. There are large sunk costs in setting up business. As a result the industry displays strong economies of scale. Based on the available evidence, the paper estimates fixed costs to be of the order of $35 per account per year (the 95% confidence interval is $21 $49 per account per year). Given costs of this order of magnitude, individual accounts need to be of the order of 4 6% of average wages for the second pillar to be viable i.e. to deliver a return greater than what can be expected from an unchanged first pillar.

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