Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System Solvency Analysis
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Policy Study

Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System Solvency Analysis

Underperforming investment returns have been the biggest contributor to the growing unfunded liability, adding $6.8 billion in debt to the system since 2001.

The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi (MPERS) was established to provide lifetime retirement benefits to public employees, but a Reason Foundation analysis finds that the long-term solvency of the plan is at risk.

Despite the longest bull market in American history, MPERS had amassed over $18 billion in unfunded liabilities prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The system has only 60.9 percent of the assets on hand today needed to fully fund the plan in the long-term and debt has increased over the last three decades.

The system’s declining solvency stems from multiple sources. After two decades of underperforming investments, insufficient contributions and flawed actuarial assumptions, funding cost continues to hit all-time highs and draw limited resources away from other public priorities appealing for funding.

This analysis, produced by the Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation, spotlights structural problems within MPERS that are contributing to rising pension debt and public service crowd-out. The analysis looks at the primary factors driving MPERS’s unfunded liabilities over the past few decades and offers a stress testing analysis designed to highlight potentially latent financial risks and exposure to market volatility.

To protect taxpayers, employees and retirees, stakeholders must gather together around a central, non-partisan understanding of the challenges MPERS faces. With independent third-party actuarial analysis and expert technical assistance, our organization stands ready to help Mississippi policymakers and stakeholders as they address the shifting fiscal landscape.

Mississippi Public Employees Retirement System (MPERS) Pension Solvency Analysis

Leonard Gilroy is vice president of government reform at Reason Foundation and senior managing director of Reason's Pension Integrity Project.

Jen Sidorova is a policy analyst with Reason Foundation's Pension Integrity Project.

Steven Gassenberger is a policy analyst with Reason Foundation's Pension Integrity Project.