The typical American has no idea how much corporate CEOs make—but they still believe CEOs are making much too much.
That’s according to a new study from researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (pdf):
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 10 times what the average American believes those CEOs earn. The typical American believes a CEO earns $1 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). . .
The vast majority (74 percent) of Americans believe that CEOs are not paid the correct amount relative to the average worker. Only 16 percent believe they are paid an appropriate amount.
Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of Americans believe that there is a maximum amount CEOs should be paid relative to the average worker, regardless of the company and its performance. . .
Those who believe in capping CEO pay relative to the average worker would do so at a very low multiple. The typical American would limit CEO pay to no more than 6 times (17.6 times, based on average numbers) that of the average worker. These figures are significantly below current pay multiples, which are approximately 210 times based on recent compensation figures.