IEA Conversations

The debate on high pay

May 8, 2019

The Labour Party’s Peter Mandelson once remarked that Labour was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. But in 2019 a politician is more likely to be heard saying we must all be deeply concerned about the apparent excesses of pay at the top of organisations – both public and private sector. 

But do they have a point? Many argue that the current requirement for large businesses to spell out the basis of their pay structure may be acceptable, and find maintaining a watchful eye on pay in the public sector to be eminently sensible. But are those calling for the state to have the power to fix pay ratios or even introduce pay caps at risk of ignoring the numerous downsides which come from government intervention?

Well! Fortunately, a new IEA publication debates these very issues, with Top Dogs & Fat Cats: The Debate on High Pay launched this week. It looks at all aspects of the high pay debate and features chapters debating the rights and wrongs of CEO pay, the links between corporate governance and executive pay, and the gender pay gap in executive roles.

It features contributions from leading academics and economists and was brought together by IEA Editorial Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton. Joining Darren Grimes to discuss the topic is Len himself and Luke Hildyard, Executive Director of the High Pay Centre, a UK think tank carrying out research and analysis on issues relating to top incomes, corporate governance, and business performance.