Research on pensions by the ESRI shows that Irish public companies are paying pension contributions for top executive directors that are 36 times the average for other employees.

The research shows that 48 companies quoted on the Irish Stock Exchange paid an average of €100,000 a year to the pension funds of executive directors.

This compared with an average contribution of €2,700 for other employees.

The ESRI paper calls for a rebalancing of pension tax reliefs away from top earners.

The report, which analysed the pensions contributions paid to 147 executive directors of listed companies in 2009, found that the average employer contribution for employees was around 7% of salary, but for for executive directors it was 26%

With an average salary of just over €396,000, that meant top bosses got an average pension contribution of €100,000, while other employees got just €2,700 towards their retirement funds.

While top bosses in Ireland got paid ten times average earnings, their pension fund got 36 times the average pension contribution.

If they had retired in 2009, they would have got an average pension of €199,100 - which was seventeen times the annual state pension of €11,976

The paper, by Trinity College business school academic Gerry Hughes, said that tax reliefs on pensions contributions were €2.7 billion in 2009.

The biggest beneficiaries of this tax relief are those with the highest earnings - and the biggest pension pots - and it argued that contributions and pension fund size should be capped to redirect this relief to encourage pension savings by middle and lower income earners.