Are US CEOs Paid More? New International Evidence

50 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2009 Last revised: 19 Jun 2012

Nuno Fernandes

IMD International

Miguel A. Ferreira

Nova School of Business and Economics; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Pedro P. Matos

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Kevin J. Murphy

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business; USC Gould School of Law

Date Written: May 22, 2012

Abstract

This paper challenges the widely accepted stylized fact that CEOs in the United States are paid significantly more than their foreign counterparts. Using CEO pay data across 14 countries with mandated pay disclosures, we show that the US pay premium is economically modest and primarily reflects the performance-based pay demanded by institutional shareholders and independent boards. Indeed, we find no significant difference in either level of CEO pay or the use of equity-based pay between US and non-US firms exposed to international and US capital, product, and labor markets. We also show that US and non-US CEO pay has largely converged in the 2000s. The findings are robust to alternative methods for adjusting the risk of equity-based pay.

Keywords: Executive compensation, CEO pay, International pay differences, Stock options, Corporate governance

JEL Classification: G32, G34, G38

Suggested Citation

Fernandes, Nuno and Ferreira, Miguel A. and Matos, Pedro P. and Murphy, Kevin J., Are US CEOs Paid More? New International Evidence (May 22, 2012). EFA 2009 Bergen Meetings Paper; ECGI - Finance Working Paper No. 255/2009; AFA 2011 Denver Meetings Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1341639 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1341639

Nuno Fernandes (Contact Author)

IMD International ( email )

Ch. de Bellerive 23
P.O. Box 915
CH-1001 Lausanne
Switzerland

Miguel Almeida Ferreira

Nova School of Business and Economics ( email )

Campus de Campolide
Lisbon, 1099-032
Portugal

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Pedro P. Matos

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

University of Virginia
P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

Kevin J. Murphy

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

BRI 308, MC 0804
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0804
United States
213-740-6553 (Phone)
213-740-6650 (Fax)

USC Gould School of Law

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,828
Rank
6,289
Abstract Views
8,971