Throughout their history, corporate defined benefit (DB) plans have evolved to meet the shifting demands of employers, legislators, and participants. Their popularity began slowly in the late 1800s, then rose rapidly in the 1940s and 1950s, before gradually fading in favor of defined contribution (DC) plans. Corporate DB plans presently account for over $3 trillion in retirement assets covering nearly 40 million current and former U.S. workers.1

This Russell Investments Research explores the evolution of DB plans over time and many key moments including:

  1. Early pension schemes
  2. The passing of legislation, such as Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974 and Pension Protection Act (PPA) in 2006
  3. The present-day innovations, such as liability-driven investing (LDI), risk transfer, and hybrid plan designs
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