How justifiable is high CEO pay in the United States?
The high compensation for executives and in particular for CEOs has been a topic of debate for many years. Increasing salaries and bonuses for leaders of companies have mostly been criticized and even pointed out as a key factor for a rising wealth distribution inequality. Especially in the United States, where CEO pay is most extreme, the public as well as the media ask for new regulations and political intervention. But are these high compensations really undeserved and unfair? How much do top managers actually earn and why do businesses support it? This academic paper will first give an overview of some important numbers and statistics in order to have an idea of how high a CEO's income is compared to an average employee. It will also explain how to properly interpret these data and how much an executive's income can vary depending on different factors. After analyzing the recent history and developments in CEO pay, chapter 8 will provide the necessary economic background to help understand companies' decisions and see high wages from a business point of view. Although the paper will focus on CEO earnings in the US, it will give examples of differences in other countries and systems. Due to a distinct set of labor regulations, we will draw a comparison to CEO pay in Germany and furthermore illustrate the event of a political referendum in Switzerland. Finally, we will pick on various arguments by media, the public, as well as renowned economists, listing a series of pros and cons for excessive CEO pay. An insightful survey, conducted in the US, will then close the debate and leave the reader with the final thoughts of the conclusion.
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