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'Fat Cat Thursday' - 04 January 2018

Jonny Clark

4th January 2018

If you weren't aware, today is classified as 'Fat Cat Thursday' by Think Tank High Pay Centre. The concept exists to show how, by comparing the average wage of the CEOs of the FTSE 100 companies with the average wage in the UK, there is a huge disparity between the wages of top executives compared to the people that they employ. In short, by working 12 hours a day from the 2nd to the 4th of January (even top executives take New Year's day off) the CEOs of the top businesses in the UK will have already earned as much as most of their employees will earn in one entire year by lunchtime today.

As an economics teacher I would be using this in class to ask a few questions of students:

  • How can you explain such a disparity in wages using economic theory (assuming that you've covered that topic)?
  • If the disparity feels 'unfair', is this purely for sociological or political reasons or can you find an economic justification for having a more equal pay structure?
  • When calculating the 'Fat Cat Thursday' point, the statisticians actually use the 'median' UK annual salary in the UK (rather than just the 'average wage').  Why do they use the median wage level?

Of course, you can use this to further discuss inequality in pay and opportunities for women.  In 2016, only 7 of the top executives for the FTSE 100 were women - in fact, there were more men named David than there were women in the FTSE 100 CEO club.

Jonny Clark

Jon Clark has been teaching economics and business studies for over 25 years primarily in the Further Education sector. Before joining tutor2u, he was a senior manager at South Cheshire College in Crewe.

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