your connection to The Boston Globe

CEOs and the rest of us

The pay packages received by top CEOs have been increasing all over the world, but especially so in the United States. Consequently, there is growing concern about the widening gap between top executives’ pay and that of other workers. How many working days does it take the average US CEO at a large company to earn the same amount that the average US worker does in an entire year?

A. One month's worth. B. Two weeks' worth C. Five days D. One day

A. One month's worth is not correct.

Japanese CEOs make about 11 times more than the average employee, meaning that Japan's corporate leaders must labor for a bit more than one month before their compensation equals what the average worker earns in a year.

That places Japan among the countries whose business leaders receive comparatively modest salaries. Taiwan falls into that category as well with CEOs taking home about 14 times more than the average employee.

B. Two weeks' worth is not correct.

With pay 20 and 23 times higher than that of the average worker, German and French CEOs, respectively, take a little more than two work weeks to match the annual salaries earned by workers.

These ratios are comparable to that of Poland, where the average CEO makes 25 times more than the typical worker, according to Towers Perrin. However, whereas the average executive makes about $1.2 million in Germany and in France, he or she receives only about $400,000 in Poland.

C. Five days is not correct.

Back in 1980, the average level of CEO compensation in the United States was 42 times higher than the wages of the average worker, amounting to about $1.4 million (in 2004 dollars). To reach the salary of the average worker, the typical chief executive back then had to work a bit longer than the standard five-day work week.

These days, CEOs in Argentina, Singapore, and Venezuela are paid about 40 times more than the average worker in those countries, meaning that the gap between CEOs and the rest of these countries' workforces is as large today as it was in the United States nearly three decades ago.

D. One day is correct.

Including salary, stock options, retirement contributions, bonuses, and other incentives, the average CEO at the top 350 US companies received about $11.6 million in compensation in 2005, according to the Center for American Progress, or about 279 times the salary of the average worker.

Put another way, the typical US chief executive earns more money each work day than the typical employee makes in a year which averages $41,600, including benefits such as healthcare and pension contributions.

The Globalist Quiz is produced by The Globalist, a Washington-based research organization that promotes awareness of world affairs. © 2006 The Globalist,