Executive Compensation and Cash Contributions to Defined Benefit Pension Plans
Forthcoming in the Journal of Business Finance and Accounting
52 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2018 Last revised: 2 Aug 2018
Date Written: June 12, 2018
Cash contributions to defined benefit pension (DB) plans reduce cash flows from operations without directly affecting the current year’s net income. We utilize this unique setting to investigate how managerial incentives to report higher cash flows from operations, executive compensation in particular, affect contributions. Using a comprehensive dataset of DB plan contributions, we find that firms with higher chief executive officer (CEO) compensation contribute less to DB plans, consistent with managers benefiting from lower pension contributions. Results are stronger when CEO compensation is directly linked to cash flows from operations or when CEO compensation is more sensitive to cash flows from operations. We also find enhanced disclosure and more transparent reporting under the recent pension accounting regime mitigates the negative association between executive compensation and cash contributions.
Keywords: defined benefit pension plan, executive compensation, pension accounting, pension contribution
JEL Classification: M41, M48, J32, J33
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