Pensions, in the broadest sense of the term, have existed since ancient Rome. Soldiers in the
Roman army could earn pensions through their military service. The value of these pensions to Roman
soldiers helped to maintain the power of emperors such as Augustus. Pensions for military service have
continued to exist in one form or another in the two thousand years since.
Public pensions for teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other civilian public servants in the United
States are a more recent development. In fact, public pensions as we know them are just over one
hundred years old. Governments began offering pensions because they are the most effective and costefficient
way for working families to prepare for retirement. Unfortunately, many people today have
forgotten the true value of pensions and why they are so important. This report will explore the history
of defined benefit public pensions in the United States, why they were implemented in the first place,
and why they continue to remain today.