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Bankers and Their Bonuses

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Abstract

The pay of financial sector workers ("bankers") is a focus of public concern especially since the onset of the financial crisis. We document the remarkable rise in the share of aggregate pay going to those at the very top of the distribution over the last decade in the UK and highlight the role of the financial sector. Rising bonuses paid to bankers accounted for around two-thirds of the increase in the national wage bill ("earnings pie") taken by the top one percent of workers since 1999. Surprisingly, even after the crisis bankers took at least as large a share of the earnings pie in 2011 as they did at the peak of the boom in 2007 and saw no worsening in their employment outcomes relative to other similar workers. Having described the scale of bankers' pay, we discuss the policy responses that have been proposed to address the issue such as transparency, numerical bonus targets, bonus clawbacks and taxation.
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  • Brian Bell & John Reenen, 2014. "Bankers and Their Bonuses," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages 1-21, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v:124:y:2014:i:574:p:f1-f21
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2014.124.issue-574
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100.
    2. (IFS), Institute for Fiscal Studies & Mirrlees, James (ed.), 2011. "Tax By Design: The Mirrlees Review," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199553747.
    3. Anthony Atkinson & Thomas Piketty, 2010. "Top Incomes : A Global Perspective," Post-Print halshs-00754875, HAL.
    4. Steven N. Kaplan & Joshua Rauh, 2010. "Wall Street and Main Street: What Contributes to the Rise in the Highest Incomes?," NBER Chapters,in: Corporate Governance National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2014. "Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 230-271, February.
    6. Atkinson, A. B. & Piketty, Thomas (ed.), 2007. "Top Incomes Over the Twentieth Century: A Contrast Between Continental European and English-Speaking Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286881.
    7. Thomas Philippon & Ariell Reshef, 2012. "Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Finance Industry: 1909--2006," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1551-1609.
    8. Atkinson, A. B. & Piketty, Thomas (ed.), 2010. "Top Incomes: A Global Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286898.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni Marin & Francesco Vona, 2017. "Finance and the Misallocation of Scientific, Engineering and Mathematical Talent," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2017-27, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    2. Aedín Doris & Donal O’Neill & Olive Sweetman, 2015. "Wage flexibility and the great recession: the response of the Irish labour market," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, December.
    3. Bryan, Mark & Bryson, Alex, 2016. "Has performance pay increased wage inequality in Britain?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 149-161.
    4. Kvaløy, Ola & Nieken, Petra & Schöttner, Anja, 2015. "Hidden benefits of reward: A field experiment on motivation and monetary incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 188-199.
    5. Joanne Lindley & Steven Mcintosh, 2017. "Finance Sector Wage Growth and the Role of Human Capital," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 79(4), pages 570-591, August.
    6. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2016. "Bonus Culture: Competitive Pay, Screening, and Multitasking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(2), pages 305-370.
    7. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:334:p:157-179 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Chris Belfield & Richard Blundell & Jonathan Cribb & Andrew Hood & Robert Joyce, 2017. "Two Decades of Income Inequality in Britain: The Role of Wages, Household Earnings and Redistribution," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 157-179, April.
    9. Sudip Ranjan Basu, "undated". "Do data show divergence? Revisiting global income inequality trends," MPDD Working Paper Series WP/17/03, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
    10. Fortin, Nicole M. & Bell, Brian & Böhm, Michael, 2017. "Top earnings inequality and the gender pay gap: Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 107-123.
    11. Alain Cohn & Ernst Fehr & Michel André Maréchal, 2017. "Do professional norms in the banking industry favor risk-taking?," ECON - Working Papers 244, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    12. Axelson, Ulf & Bond, Philip, 2015. "Wall Street occupations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37448, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. Gietl, Daniel & Haufler, Andreas, 2016. "Bonus Taxes and International Competition for Bank Managers," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145615, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    14. Boustanifar, Hamid & Grant, Everett & Reshef, Ariell, 2016. "Wages and human capital in finance: international evidence, 1970-2005," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 266, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance

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