Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance in the U.S.: Perceptions, Facts and Challenges
In this paper, I consider the evidence for three common perceptions of U.S. public company CEO pay and corporate governance: (1) CEOs are overpaid and their pay keeps increasing; (2) CEOs are not paid for their performance; and (3) boards do not penalize CEOs for poor performance. While average CEO pay increased substantially through the 1990s, it has declined since then. CEO pay levels relative to other highly paid groups today are comparable to their average levels in the early 1990s although they remain above their long-term historical average. The ratio of large-company CEO pay to firm market value is roughly similar to its level in the late-1970s and lower than its pre-1960s levels. These patterns suggest that similar forces, likely technology and scale, have played a meaningful role in driving CEO pay and the pay of others with top incomes. With regard to performance, CEOs are paid for performance and penalized for poor performance. Finally, boards do monitor CEOs. The rate of CEO turnover has increased in the 2000s compared to the 1980s and 1990s, and is significantly tied to poor stock performance. While corporate governance failures and pay outliers as well as the very high average pay levels relative to the typical household undoubtedly have contributed to the common perceptions, a meaningful part of CEO pay appears to be market determined and boards do appear to monitor their CEOs. Consistent with that, top executive pay policies at over 98% of S&P 500 and Russell 3000 companies received majority shareholder support in the Dodd-Frank mandated Say-On-Pay votes in 2011.
|Date of creation:||Sep 2012|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
- Jonathan A. Parker & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2010.
"The Increase in Income Cyclicality of High-Income Households and Its Relation to the Rise in Top Income Shares,"
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity,
Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(2 (Fall)), pages 1-70.
- Jonathan A. Parker & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2010. "The Increase in Income Cyclicality of High-Income Households and its Relation to the Rise in Top Income Shares," NBER Working Papers 16577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Carola Frydman & Raven E. Saks, 2010.
"Executive Compensation: A New View from a Long-Term Perspective, 1936--2005,"
Review of Financial Studies,
Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(5), pages 2099-2138.
- 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.
- Carola Frydman & Raven E. Saks, 2007. "Executive compensation: a new view from a long-term perspective, 1936-2005," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Benjamin E. Hermalin, 2005. "Trends in Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2351-2384, October.
- Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1997.
"Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?,"
NBER Working Papers
6213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kaplan, Steven N. & Strömberg, Per, 2009.
"Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity,"
SIFR Research Report Series
65, Institute for Financial Research.
- Philippon, Thomas & Reshef, Ariell, 2009.
"Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry: 1909-2006,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
7282, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Thomas Philippon & Ariell Reshef, 2009. "Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry: 1909-2006," NBER Working Papers 14644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are Ceos Rewarded For Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932, August.
- Clifford G. Holderness & Randall S. Kroszner & Dennis P. Sheehan, 1999. "Were the Good Old Days That Good? Changes in Managerial Stock Ownership Since the Great Depression," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 435-469, 04.
- Bizjak, John M. & Lemmon, Michael L. & Naveen, Lalitha, 2008. "Does the use of peer groups contribute to higher pay and less efficient compensation?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 152-168, November.
- Jon Bakija & Adam Cole & Bradley Heim, 2008. "Jobs and Income Growth of Top Earners and the Causes of Changing Income Inequality: Evidence from U.S. Tax Return Data," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-22, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jan 2012.
- Lucian A. Taylor, 2010. "Why Are CEOs Rarely Fired? Evidence from Structural Estimation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(6), pages 2051-2087, December.
- Martin J. Conyon & John E. Core & Wayne R. Guay, 2011. "Are U.S. CEOs Paid More Than U.K. CEOs? Inferences from Risk-adjusted Pay," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(2), pages 402-438.
- repec:dgr:uvatin:20120021 is not listed on IDEAS
- Bengt Holmstrom & Steven N. Kaplan, 2001. "Corporate Governance and Merger Activity in the United States: Making Sense of the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 121-144, Spring.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18395. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.