Corruption Culture and Accounting Quality
53 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2019
Date Written: September 2019
This paper examines the impact of corruption culture on accounting quality (AQ) of listed firms at the municipal level in China. We consider municipalities with (without) corrupt top government officials as having high (low) corruption culture. To isolate the effect of corruption culture, we use the arrest of corrupt officials (the events) to capture the change in local corruption culture, and apply the difference-in-difference method to compare AQ of firms operating in the jurisdictions of corrupt officials pre and post the events, compared to control firms. We find that AQ of firms affiliated with corrupt officials is higher after the events, which is robust to the placebo test, time-trend analysis, and various robustness tests. We complement the literature by showing that the increase in AQ is greater for firms associated with more powerful officials and having stronger connections with corrupt officials. Moreover, the positive effect on accounting quality is stronger in the post-2012 period. Further, we document that firms improving AQ after the events issue more SEOs and have lower cost of capital. Finally, analyses on channels firms used to improve AQ show that firms switch to higher quality auditors, have better internal control, and issue more management forecasts. This study has implications for policymakers in countries that suffer from corruption.
Keywords: Corruption Culture; Accounting Quality; Local Government Officials
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