Dividend Policy and Earnings Management Across Countries
41 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2015 Last revised: 16 May 2017
Date Written: November 1, 2016
This paper examines whether dividend policy is associated with earnings management and whether the relationship varies across countries with wide-ranging degrees of institutional strength and transparency. Based on a sample of 23,429 corporations from 29 countries, we show that dividend payers manage earnings less than dividend non-payers, and that this evidence is stronger in countries with weak investor protection and high opacity. Further, we find that dividend payers manage earnings less when they issue equity following dividend payments, and that this result is more pronounced in countries with weak institutions and low transparency. Overall, our evidence suggests that firms may employ dividend policies associated with less earnings manipulation to mitigate agency concerns and to establish credible reputation, thereby facilitating access to external funds.
Keywords: Dividends, Earnings management, Agency problems, Investor protection, Equity issuance
JEL Classification: G15, G34, G35, G38, M41
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