While many state-run pension plans are running huge deficits, and many states are calling for a switch from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans, a handful of pensions have managed to weather the market volatility since 2008, including New York's.

A report by the National Institute on Retirement Security and Pension Trustee Advisors, on behalf of the Office of New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, looked at five of New York's largest pension plans and compared them to equivalent defined contribution plans.

"A Better Bang for New York City's Buck" examined the state's teacher, civilian worker, sanitation worker, police officer and firefighter pensions. What it found is that all five saved between 36 percent and 38 percent over an equivalent defined contribution plan.

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