Show Me the Money: Does Shared Capitalism Share the Wealth?
NBER Working Paper No. 14830
This paper examines the effect of a variety of employee ownership programs on employees' holdings of their employers' stock, their earnings and their wealth. Two major datasets are employed: the NBER Shared Capitalism Research Project employee survey dataset and the 2002 and 2006 national General Social Surveys (GSS). The GSS national survey shows that 29% of permanent, full-time employees with at least one year on the job own their employers' stock, compared to the unsurprisingly higher 87% of employees in the NBER "shared capitalist" firms. The employees in the national sample hold an average of $10,600 of employer stock, compared to $52,800 in the NBER sample. Employee owners in NBER companies with broad-based ownership structures fare better: those in majority-owned ESOPs hold on average $86,000 in company stock and those in broad-based stock option plans hold options worth an average of $283,000. We find no evidence -- either between datasets or between employee-owners and non-owners within datasets -- of substitution of company stock ownership for pay or benefits. Moreover, our analysis suggests that company stock ownership substantially raises total employee wealth, though it appears to have little effect on the overall distribution of wealth. These results suggest that employee ownership tends to raise both ownership stakes and economic resources of American workers across the economic spectrum.