The Geography of Executive Compensation
53 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2012
Date Written: March 15, 2012
Based on a variety of theoretical motivations, this paper first examines empirically whether geography affects CEO compensation and finds that it does. Specifically, if the CEOs of firms that are geographically-close to CEO i’s firm experience a 1% increase in salary in a given year, CEO i will experience a 0.3% increase in salary the following year ceteris paribus. Based on cash and total compensation, the effects are roughly half and one third the size of the salary effect. These results are obtained while controlling for previously-documented factors that affect CEO compensation – including the average CEO compensation at similar-sized industry peers – and proxies for the cost of living. Similar results are obtained using a variety of alternative specifications, including instrumental variable regressions to deal with potential endogeneity concerns.
The paper then examines four possible reasons for geography to affect CEO compensation: local labor market competition for CEOs; local hiring of similar CEOs; the effect of 'leading firms' in the vicinity; and envy among geographically-close CEOs. The results are most consistent with envy.
Keywords: CEO compensation, geography, envy
JEL Classification: D8, G3, J3, R1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation