IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/14145.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Executive Compensation: A New View from a Long-Term Perspective, 1936-2005

Author

Listed:
  • Carola Frydman
  • Raven E. Saks

Abstract

We analyze the long-run trends in executive compensation using a new panel dataset of top executives in large publicly-held firms from 1936 to 2005, collected from corporate reports. This historic perspective reveals several surprising new facts that conflict with inferences based only on data from the recent decades. First, the median real value of compensation was remarkably flat from the end of World War II to the mid-1970s, even during times of rapid economic expansion and aggregate firm growth. This finding contrasts sharply with the steep upward trajectory of pay over the past thirty years, which coincided with a period of similarly large increases in aggregate firm size. A second surprising finding is that the sensitivity of an executive's wealth to firm performance was not inconsequentially small for most of our sample period. Thus, recent years were not the first time when compensation arrangements served to align managerial incentives with those of shareholders. Taken together, the long-run trends in the level and structure of compensation pose a challenge to several common explanations for the widely-debated surge in executive pay of the past several decades, including changes in firms' size, rent extraction by CEOs, and increases in managerial incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Carola Frydman & Raven E. Saks, 2008. "Executive Compensation: A New View from a Long-Term Perspective, 1936-2005," NBER Working Papers 14145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14145
    Note: CF DAE LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14145.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rajan, Raghuram G. & Wulf, Julie, 2006. "Are perks purely managerial excess?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 1-33, January.
    2. Rosen, S., 1990. "Contracts and Market for Executives," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 90-12, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
    3. 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.
    4. Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1999. "The Other Side of the Trade-off: The Impact of Risk on Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 65-105, February.
    5. Haubrich, Joseph G, 1994. "Risk Aversion, Performance Pay, and the Principal-Agent Problem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 258-276, April.
    6. Michael C. Jensen, 2010. "The Modern Industrial Revolution, Exit, and the Failure of Internal Control Systems," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 22(1), pages 43-58, January.
    7. Cuñat, Vicente & Guadalupe, Maria, 2006. "Globalization and the Provision of Incentives Inside the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 5950, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Marko Tervio, 2008. "The Difference That CEOs Make: An Assignment Model Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 642-668, June.
    9. M. Hashem Pesaran, 2007. "A simple panel unit root test in the presence of cross-section dependence," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 265-312.
    10. Paul L. Joskow & Nancy L. Rose, 1994. "CEO Pay and Firm Performance: Dynamics, Asymmetries, and Alternative Performance Measures," NBER Working Papers 4976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2003. "The Trouble with Stock Options," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 49-70, Summer.
    12. Lucian Arye Bebchuk & Jesse M. Fried, 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 71-92, Summer.
    13. Demsetz, Harold & Lehn, Kenneth, 1985. "The Structure of Corporate Ownership: Causes and Consequences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1155-1177, December.
    14. Lyndon Moore & Steve Juh, 2006. "Derivative Pricing 60 Years before Black–Scholes: Evidence from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(6), pages 3069-3098, December.
    15. Kothari, S P & Shanken, Jay & Sloan, Richard G, 1995. "Another Look at the Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 185-224, March.
    16. Yermack, David, 1995. "Do corporations award CEO stock options effectively?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 237-269.
    17. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691.
    18. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2000. "The Taxation of Executive Compensation," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 14, pages 1-44, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Wilbur G. Lewellen, 1968. "Executive Compensation in Large Industrial Corporations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lewe68-1, May.
    20. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2007. "A Calibratable Model of Optimal CEO Incentives in Market Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 13372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2003. "The Trouble with Stock Options," NBER Working Papers 9784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Garen, John E, 1994. "Executive Compensation and Principal-Agent Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1175-1199, December.
    23. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
    24. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563, Elsevier.
    25. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Peter Sanfey, 1996. "Wages, Profits, and Rent-Sharing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 227-251.
    26. Benjamin E. Hermalin, 2005. "Trends in Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2351-2384, October.
    27. Bebchuk, Lucian A. & Fried, Jesse M., 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt81q3136r, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    28. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are CEOs Rewarded for Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    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. Page, T. Beau, 2018. "CEO attributes, compensation, and firm value: Evidence from a structural estimation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(2), pages 378-401.
    3. Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.
    4. Yaowen Shan & Terry Walter, 2016. "Towards a Set of Design Principles for Executive Compensation Contracts," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 52(4), pages 619-684, December.
    5. Arantxa Jarque, 2008. "CEO compensation : trends, market changes, and regulation," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, vol. 94(Sum), pages 265-300.
    6. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2007. "A Calibratable Model of Optimal CEO Incentives in Market Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 13372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Simona Catuogno & Sara Saggese & Fabrizia Sarto & Riccardo Viganò, 2016. "Shedding light on the aim of stock options: a literature review," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 20(2), pages 387-411, June.
    8. Carola Frydman, 2008. "Learning from the Past: Trends in Executive Compensation over the Twentieth Century," CESifo Working Paper Series 2460, CESifo.
    9. Chongwoo Choe & Gloria Tian & Xiangkang Yin, 2008. "Managerial Power, Stock-Based Compensation, And Firm Performance: Theory And Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers 21/08, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    10. Michael L. Bognanno, 2010. "Executive Compensation: A Brief Review," DETU Working Papers 1002, Department of Economics, Temple University.
    11. repec:hrv:faseco:34651704 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Pierre Chaigneau & Nicolas Sahuguet, 2014. "Explaining the Association between Monitoring and Controversial CEO Pay Practices: an Optimal Contracting Perspective," Cahiers de recherche 1406, CIRPEE.
    13. Andrea Melis & Silvia Carta & Silvia Gaia, 2012. "Executive remuneration in blockholder-dominated firms. How do Italian firms use stock options?," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 16(3), pages 511-541, August.
    14. Kato, Takao & Kim, Woochan & Lee, Ju Ho, 2007. "Executive compensation, firm performance, and Chaebols in Korea: Evidence from new panel data," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 36-55, January.
    15. Matthias Kiefer & Edward Jones & Andrew Adams, 2016. "Principals, Agents and Incomplete Contracts: Are Surrender of Control and Renegotiation the Solution?," CFI Discussion Papers 1603, Centre for Finance and Investment, Heriot Watt University.
    16. Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti & María José Prados, 2015. "Gender and Dynamic Agency: Theory and Evidence on the Compensation of Top Executives," Research in Labor Economics, in: Solomon W. Polachek & Konstantinos Tatsiramos & Klaus F. Zimmermann (ed.), Gender in the Labor Market, volume 42, pages 1-59, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    17. Bloom, Nicholas & Van Reenen, John, 2011. "Human Resource Management and Productivity," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 19, pages 1697-1767, Elsevier.
    18. Wolfgang Drobetz & Pascal Pensa & Markus M. Schmid, 2007. "Estimating the Cost of Executive Stock Options: evidence from Switzerland," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 798-815, September.
    19. Carola Frydman, 2019. "Rising Through the Ranks: The Evolution of the Market for Corporate Executives, 1936–2003," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(11), pages 4951-4979, November.
    20. Dietl Helmut M & Duschl Tobias & Lang Markus, 2011. "Executive Pay Regulation: What Regulators, Shareholders, and Managers Can Learn from Major Sports Leagues," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 1-32, August.
    21. Dirk Jenter & Fadi Kanaan, 2015. "CEO Turnover and Relative Performance Evaluation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(5), pages 2155-2184, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • N82 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:nbr:nberwo:14145. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.