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Gender and Dynamic Agency: Theory and Evidence on the Compensation of Top Executives

Author

Listed:
  • Stefania Albanesi

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Claudia Olivetti

    (Boston University and NBER)

  • Maria Jose Prados

    (University of Southern California)

Abstract

We document three new facts about gender differences in executive compensation. First, female executives receive lower share of incentive pay in total compensation relative to males. This difference accounts for 93% of the gender gap in total pay. Second, the compensation of female executives displays lower pay-performance sensitivity. A $1 million dollar 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' compensation is more sensitive to bad firm performance and less sensitive to good firm performance. 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

  • Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti & Maria Jose Prados, 2015. "Gender and Dynamic Agency: Theory and Evidence on the Compensation of Top Executives," Working Papers 2015-004, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2015-004
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    Cited by:

    1. Anthony B. Atkinson & Alessandra Casarico & Sarah Voitchovsky, 2018. "Top incomes and the gender divide," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 225-256, June.
    2. Nishtha Langer & Ram D. Gopal & Ravi Bapna, 2020. "Onward and Upward? An Empirical Investigation of Gender and Promotions in Information Technology Services," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 31(2), pages 383-398, June.
    3. Cohen, Alma & Hazan, Moshe & Weiss, David, 2020. "Politics and Gender in the Executive Suite," CEPR Discussion Papers 14513, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Dirk Dohse & Rajeev K. Goel & Michael A. Nelson, 2019. "Female owners versus female managers: Who is better at introducing innovations?," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 520-539, April.
    5. Sieg, Holger & Wang, Yu, 2018. "The impact of student debt on education, career, and marriage choices of female lawyers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 124-147.
    6. Jaan Masso & Priit Vahter, 2020. "Innovation As A Firm-Level Factor Of The Gender Wage Gap," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 128, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    7. Holger Sieg & Yu Wang, 2017. "The Impact of Student Debt on Education, Career, and Marriage Choices of Female Lawyers," NBER Working Papers 23453, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Luca Flabbi & Mario Macis & Andrea Moro & Fabiano Schivardi, 2019. "Do Female Executives Make a Difference? The Impact of Female Leadership on Gender Gaps and Firm Performance," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(622), pages 2390-2423.
    9. World Bank, 2017. "Republic of Armenia Leveling the STEM Playing Field for Women," World Bank Publications - Reports 26766, The World Bank Group.
    10. Canil, Jean & Karpavičius, Sigitas & Yu, Chia-Feng, 2019. "Are shareholders gender neutral? Evidence from say on pay," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 169-186.
    11. Fernandes, Ana P. & Ferreira, Priscila, 2021. "Executives’ gender pay gap and financing constraints," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 381-404.
    12. Lalanne, Marie & Seabright, Paul, 2016. "The old boy network: The impact of professional networks on remuneration in top executive jobs," SAFE Working Paper Series 123, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    13. Casarico, A. & Lattanzio, S., 2019. "What Firms Do: Gender Inequality in Linked Employer-Employee Data," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1966, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    14. Paul M. Guest, 2017. "Executive Compensation and Ethnic Minority Status," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 427-458, July.
    15. Alicia R. Ingersoll & Christy Glass & Alison Cook & Kari Joseph Olsen, 2019. "Power, Status and Expectations: How Narcissism Manifests Among Women CEOs," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 158(4), pages 893-907, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sensitivity; performance incentives; managerial power; skimming; efficient contracts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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