Employee Stock Ownership Plans: A Status Report
UI The Retirement Project Brief Series No. 10
8 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2000
Date Written: June 2000
For the past 25 years, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) have provided employers with a means to transfer substantial ownership interests to their employees. But as the popularity of company stock as an investment option increases among employees, employers have some new alternatives to consider. This report reviews the current status of ESOPs through an analysis of 1997 Form 5500 data collected by the Department of Labor. It also describes the competition - stock options, stock purchase plans and company stock funds in 401k plans. It concludes that ESOPs have lost much of their appeal as companies now have access to less complicated and more versatile means for aligning employee and corporate interests. The alternatives to ESOPS also provide employees with greater choice about how much company stock they will hold and when they will buy and sell it. The future of employee ownership does not appear to belong to ESOPs. But ESOPs still retain special financing and tax benefits particularly attractive to the small, privately held company. As long as Congress believes providing tax subsidies for ownership transfers to employees in such companies is important, ESOPs will most likely survive for this purpose alone rather than as a primary employee benefit.
Keywords: ESOP, employee stock option plan, stock option, stock purchase, company stock
JEL Classification: J26, J33, K34, J38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation