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Executive Pensions


  • Lucian A. Bebchuk
  • Robert J. Jackson, Jr.


Because public firms are not required to disclose the monetary value of pension plans in their executive pay disclosures, financial economists have generally analyzed executive pay using figures that do not include the value of such pension plans. This paper presents evidence that omitting the value of pension benefits significantly undermines the accuracy of existing estimates of executive pay, its variability, and its sensitivity to performance companies. Studying the pension arrangements of CEOs of S&P 500, we find that the CEOs' plans had a median actuarial value of $15 million; that the ratio of the executives' pension value to the executives' total compensation (including both equity and non-equity pay) during their service as CEO had a median value of 34%; and that including pension values increased the median percentage of the executives' total compensation composed of salary-like payments during and after their service as CEO from 15% to 39%.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucian A. Bebchuk & Robert J. Jackson, Jr., 2005. "Executive Pensions," NBER Working Papers 11907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11907
    Note: CF LS

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    Cited by:

    1. Campbell, T. Colin & Galpin, Neal & Johnson, Shane A., 2016. "Optimal inside debt compensation and the value of equity and debt," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(2), pages 336-352.
    2. Damon Morris & Ian Gregory-Smith & Brian Main & Alberto Montagnoli & Peter Wright, 2015. "The Impact of 'A - Day' on Executive Pensions and Pay for Performance," Working Papers 2015026, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    3. Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.
    4. repec:eee:corfin:v:45:y:2017:i:c:p:428-466 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Colonnello, Stefano & Curatola, Giuliano & Hoang, Ngoc Giang, 2017. "Direct and indirect risk-taking incentives of inside debt," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 428-466.
    6. Liu, Yixin & Mauer, David C. & Zhang, Yilei, 2014. "Firm cash holdings and CEO inside debt," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 83-100.
    7. Frydman, Carola & Molloy, Raven S., 2011. "Does tax policy affect executive compensation? Evidence from postwar tax reforms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1425-1437.
    8. Tian, Gloria Y. & Yang, Fan, 2014. "CEO incentive compensation in U.S. financial institutions," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 64-75.
    9. Balsam, Steven & Miharjo, Setiyono, 2007. "The effect of equity compensation on voluntary executive turnover," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 95-119, March.
    10. Kabir, Rezaul & Li, Hao & Veld-Merkoulova, Yulia V., 2013. "Executive compensation and the cost of debt," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 2893-2907.
    11. Jullavut Kittiakaraskun & Yiuman Tse & George H.K. Wang, "undated". "The Impact of Trading Activity by Trader Types on Asymmetric Volatility in Nasdaq-100 Index Futures," Working Papers 0021, College of Business, University of Texas at San Antonio.
    12. Lucian Bebchuk, 2005. "The Growth of Executive Pay," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(2), pages 283-303, Summer.
    13. Darko Tipuric & Danica Bakotic & Marina Lovrincevic, 2013. "Exploring The Link Between Executive Compensation Package And Executives' Pay Satisfaction In Croatian Companies: An Empirical Study," Montenegrin Journal of Economics, Economic Laboratory for Transition Research (ELIT), vol. 9(2), pages 7-16.
    14. Dang, Viet A. & Phan, Hieu V., 2016. "CEO inside debt and corporate debt maturity structure," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 38-54.
    15. Sundaram, Rangarajan K. & Yermack, David, 2006. "Pay Me Later: Inside Debt and Its Role in Managerial Compensation," SIFR Research Report Series 43, Institute for Financial Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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