The rich get even richer

With government cuts and pay freezes, many people are worried about their future. Against this background it’s little wonder that people are growing increasingly resentful about the soaring pay of bankers and other leaders of major companies – especially when they reflect on the behaviour of top bankers who were largely responsible for the recession in the West and the debt problems that resulted. And the gap between those at the top and workers on average pay just goes on widening. As the final article below states:

The boss who sells Cillit Bang got paid a hefty £92.6m last year, while his counterpart who builds executive homes pocketed £38.4m and a top miner took home £27m. These are not figures from some international football league, but the bosses of Britain’s biggest companies, who received an average 55% pay rise in the year to June. A top FTSE 100 boss now earns £4.9m – 88 times the average worker’s pay.

On 9 November 2010, a high pay commission was launched to investigate the yawning pay gap between top executives and those on average incomes.

As the high pay commission, set up by the thinktank Compass and backed by the Joseph Rowntree charitable trust, begins its year-long analysis into the widening gap between the lowest and highest paid, a Compass poll shows that 99% of people believe that top executives are overpaid.

The commision will seek answers to questions such as the following: Why has the gap widened so massively? What is the role of globalisation in the process? Why has competition not worked to compete top pay down? Why don’t company owners impose more restraint on executive pay? Is there a form of collusion to push executive pay ever higher? Are executives worth it?!


Let’s make CEOs justify their wages Guardian, Martin O’Neill (19/10/10)
FTSE 100 bosses criticised as boardroom pay leaps by 55% Guardian, Simon Goodley and Graeme Wearden (29/10/11)
Investigation launched into soaring executive pay Guardian, Jill Treanor (9/11/10)
Eighty-five per cent of people say top executives ‘should be paid less’ Telegraph, Ian Cowie (9/11/10)
Top executives paid ‘far too much’ Financial Times, Nicholas Timmins (9/11/10)
A mission to the outer limits of pay Financial Times, Andrew Hill and Esther Bintliff (9/11/10) (first part of article)
Sharing the spoils of business fairly Guardian, Deborah Hargreaves (13/11/10)

The High Pay Commission
The High Pay Commission, home page


  1. Desribe what has happened to executive pay of the top companies over recent years.
  2. How are executive pay packages determined?
  3. How relevant is marginal productivity theory in explaining executive pay?
  4. What are the incentive effects of having extremely high pay?
  5. What scope is there for collusion in determining executive pay?
  6. Why don’t company owners impose more restraint on executive pay?
  7. What are the social impacts of excessive executive pay?
  8. What could the government do to address the problem?