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Gender and dynamic agency: theory and evidence on the compensation of top executives

Author

Listed:
  • Albanesi, Stefania

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Olivetti, Claudia
  • Prados, María José

Abstract

We document three new facts about gender differences in executive compensation. First, female executives receive a lower share of incentive pay in total compensation relative to males. This difference accounts for 93 percent of the gender gap in total pay. Second, the compensation of female executives displays lower pay-performance sensitivity. A $1 million increase in firm value generates a $17,150 increase in firm-specific wealth for male executives and a $1,670 increase for females. Third, female executives are more exposed to bad firm performance and less exposed to good firm performance relative to male executives. We find no link between firm performance and the gender of top executives. We discuss evidence on differences in preferences and the cost of managerial effort by gender and examine the resulting predictions for the structure of compensation. We consider two paradigms for the pay-setting process, the efficient contracting model and the “managerial power" or skimming view. The efficient contracting model can explain the first two facts. Only the skimming view is consistent with the third fact. This suggests that the gender differentials in executive compensation may be inefficient.

Suggested Citation

  • Albanesi, Stefania & Olivetti, Claudia & Prados, María José, 2015. "Gender and dynamic agency: theory and evidence on the compensation of top executives," Staff Reports 718, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:718
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Flabbi, Luca & Macis, Mario & Moro, Andrea & Schivardi, Fabiano, 2014. "Do Female Executives Make a Difference? The Impact of Female Leadership on Gender Gaps and Firm Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 8602, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. World Bank, 2017. "Republic of Armenia Leveling the STEM Playing Field for Women," World Bank Other Operational Studies 26766, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender differences in executive pay; incentive pay; pay-performance sensitivity;

    JEL classification:

    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation

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