The magical thing about DB pensions is that they are cheaper for employees to participate in and employers to buy.
Why? Forced participation.
People who buy annuities privately tend to be healthier than the population as a whole, which drives the price of annuities up relative to the longevity insurance provided by DB pension plans.
In a DB pension plan, *everyone* participates, whether they are long-lived or not, and whether they personally have no longevity risk aversion (and thus would opt out of the company pension plan if they could). And then those who die earlier (and stop receiving pensions) subsidize those who live longer than average.
No privately-purchased personal pension can ever match that. This is the same reason why CPP is a "good deal" for recipients, and pays more than a similar lump sum (the discounted value of CPP entitlements at retirement) would buy in the open market.
I think the "grass is greener" arguments arise because people compare two different things. If you look at longevity risk, DB pensions are a no-brainer winner. But if you are looking at retirement savings through an investing lens (not a longevity risk lens), all of a sudden DB pensions look "riskier" because the payout depends on an uncertain and random date of death (plus loss of liquidity, credit risk of the issuer, etc).
In addition, I think a couple of issues are being collapsed in this discussion: one is - which is the best way to save for retirement? And the other is, which is the best way to provide for a guaranteed lifetime stream of income once you are IN retirement?
I think these two questions need to be considered separately, and suggesting that somehow DB and DC pensions are "the same" or "there's no winner" is evidence of these two aspects being collapsed.