Here’s the teaser for this new set of survey results from Stanford:
Recently, the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University conducted a nationwide survey of 1,202 individuals — representative by gender, race, age, political affiliation, household income, and state residence — to understand public perception of CEO pay levels among the 500 largest publicly traded corporations. Key takeaways are:
– CEOs are vastly overpaid, according to most Americans
– Most support drastic reductions
– The public is divided on government intervention
74 percent of Americans believe that CEOs are not paid the correct amount relative to the average worker. Only 16 percent believe that they are. While responses vary across demographic groups (e.g., political affiliation and household income), overall sentiment regarding CEO pay remains highly negative.
This part doesn’t surprise me – but it’s still pretty amazing:
Public frustration with CEO pay exists despite a public perception that CEOs earn only a fraction of their published compensation amounts. Disclosed CEO pay at Fortune 500 companies is ten times what the average American believes those CEOs earn. The typical American believes a CEO earns $1.0 million in pay (average of $9.3 million), whereas median reported compensation for the CEOs of these companies is approximately $10.3 million (average of $12.2 million).2
Responses vary based on the household income of the respondent, but all groups underestimate actual compensation. Lower income respondents (below $20,000) believe CEOs earn $500,000 ($9.7 million average), while higher income respondents ($150,000 or more) believe CEOs earn $5,000,000 ($14.9 million average).
But are the American people sufficiently populist to support government intervention? Here the results are mixed:
In terms of a solution, approximately half of respondents (49 percent) believe the government should do something to change current CEO pay practices, approximately one-third (35 percent) do not believe the government should intervene, while the remainder have no opinion.
Higher income respondents (38 percent) are much less likely to favor government intervention than middle income (55 percent) and lower income (52 percent) respondents. Republicans and Independents (36 percent and 47 percent, respectively) are also less likely to favor government intervention than Democrats (60 percent).
Given the rising tide of Democrats who are okay with socialism, I suppose it's not surprising that they tend to favor statist solutions. But what I'd really like to have seen is a break down not just by political affiliation and income, but by age. After all, aren't you curious to know if millennials really have all fallen for Bernie Sanders' style of class warfare?