Gender Differences in Compensation Structure: An Empirical Study of Scandinavian Executives

Katrine Zinck

Student thesis: Master thesis


Inspired by the compensation study of US executives by Albanesi et al. (2015) [13], this study provides an empirically founded examination of gender differences in the structure of recent executive compensation in listed Scandinavian companies. I present evidence on significant gender differences in total pay and even stronger differences in the share of incentive pay. The average sample level of incentive pay for female executives only corresponds to 33.6% of the average incentive pay of their male counterparts. I find no link between gender and the exposure towards (neither bad or good) firm performance, and furthermore the level of incentive pay in general reveals to depend on the performance of the aggregate market rather than on the specific company. Firm performance in terms of non-financial performance measures is shown to be positively related to the amount of female executives, female board members and female managers. Causal explanations of the empirical results are investigated in terms of the efficient contracting model and (possible) gender differences primarily in risk aversion, effort costs and the value of signaling. Overall, the causal explanations suffer from lack of robustness thus the gender differentials of executive compensation in listed Scandinavian firms may be inefficient.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Mathematical Business Economics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages123
SupervisorsAnette Boom & Herdis Steingrimsdottir