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In just a few years, the frozen pension plan sector has moved from being a footnote in the institutional investment story to a central plot point—a billion-dollar segment of the market in which some of the most rapid strategic development is occurring.

Every defined-benefit (DB) pension plan exists in one of three states. If it’s an open plan, it continues to enroll new participants and benefits continue to accrue. If it’s a closed plan, it is not enrolling new participants, but already-enrolled participants continue to accrue benefits. And if it’s a frozen plan, not only does it not accept new participants, but no new benefits accrue. Figure 1, below, shows the proportion of U.S.-based defined-benefit pension plans that fall into each category; it’s based on the latest reports available from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), along with our estimate of pension plans’ current position.

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