IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Taxes on severance pay, corporate governance and golden handshakes



This paper puts forward an explanation of the rapid increase in golden handshake provision in Europe over the last ten years, based on both enhanced investor protection and attractive tax codes for severance pay. This article takes up a framework in which asymmetric information about the quality of the match between CEO and firm explains the use of golden handshakes for CEOs. It shows how corporate governance and taxation can modify the magnitude and the use of golden handshakes and thus CEO turnover rates. The second-best optimal taxation rate depends on the kind of private benefits accorded to the CEO. I show that golden handshakes should be taxed in the same way as CEO incomes. However, nonpecuniary private benefits strengten the agency cost and require some transfers for firms providing parachute-type contracts. In effect, this means partial exemption. An improvement in the quality of corporate governance should lead to smaller golden handshakes, higher turnover-performance sensitivity and the disappearance of advantageous tax codes for termination pay

Suggested Citation

  • Fabienne Llense, 2009. "Taxes on severance pay, corporate governance and golden handshakes," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 09080, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  • Handle: RePEc:mse:cesdoc:09080

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Moez Abouda, 2008. "Decreasing absolute risk aversion: some clarification," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00270648, HAL.
    2. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
    3. Paolo Ghirardato & Massimo Marinacci, 2001. "Risk, Ambiguity, and the Separation of Utility and Beliefs," Mathematics of Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 26(4), pages 864-890, November.
    4. Asano, Takao, 2006. "Portfolio inertia under ambiguity," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 223-232, December.
    5. Moez Abouda, 2008. "Decreasing absolute risk aversion : some clarification," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne b08024, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    6. Moez Abouda & Alain Chateauneuf, 2002. "Positivity of bid-ask spreads and symmetrical monotone risk aversion ," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 149-170, March.
    7. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
    8. Sujoy Mukerji & Jean-Marc Tallon, 2003. "An overview of economic applications of David Schmeidler`s models of decision making under uncertainty," Economics Series Working Papers 165, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    9. Wakker, Peter, 1990. "Characterizing optimism and pessimism directly through comonotonicity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 453-463, December.
    10. Jean-Marc Tallon & Alain Chateauneuf, 2002. "Diversification, convex preferences and non-empty core in the Choquet expected utility model," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 19(3), pages 509-523.
    11. Dow, James & Werlang, Sergio Ribeiro da Costa, 1992. "Uncertainty Aversion, Risk Aversion, and the Optimal Choice of Portfolio," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 197-204, January.
    12. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    13. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-587, May.
    14. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Fabel, Oliver & Kolmar, Martin, 2012. "Do parachutes discipline managers? An analysis of takeover battles," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 224-232.

    More about this item


    CEOs turnover; corporate governance; golden handshakes; optimal taxation; severance pay;

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mse:cesdoc:09080. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lucie Label) or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.