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An International Comparison of Capital Structure and Debt Maturity Choices

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  • Joseph P.H. Fan
  • Sheridan Titman
  • Garry Twite

Abstract

This study examines the influence of institutional environment on capital structure and debt maturity choices by examining a cross-section of firms in 39 developed and developing countries. We find that a country’s legal and tax system, the level of corruption and the preferences of capital suppliers explain a significant portion of the variation in leverage and debt maturity ratios. Our evidence indicate that firms in countries that are viewed as more corrupt tend to use less equity and more debt, especially short-term debt, while firms operating within legal systems that provide better protection for financial claimants tend to have capital structures with more equity, and relatively more long-term debt. In addition, the existence of an explicit bankruptcy code and/or deposit insurance is associated with higher leverage and more long-term debt. We also find that firms tend to use more debt in countries where there is a greater tax gain from leverage, while firms in countries with larger government bond markets have lower leverage, suggesting that government bonds tend to crowd out corporate debt. Countries with more extensive defined benefit pension funds have higher debt ratios and longer debt maturities, whereas those with more extensive defined contribution fund activities have lower debt ratios. In addition, debt ratios are lower in countries that limit the bond holdings of pension funds. Finally, we do not find a significant association between financing choices and the size of the insurance industry.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16445.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Publication status: published as Joseph P.H. Fan, Sheridan Titman, and Gary Twite. 2012. An International Comparison of Capital Structure and Debt Maturity Choices. Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis 47(1), 23-56.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16445

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  1. de Jong, Abe & Kabir, Rezaul & Nguyen, Thuy Thu, 2008. "Capital structure around the world: The roles of firm- and country-specific determinants," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1954-1969, September.
  2. Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Karacaovali, Baybars & Laeven, Luc, 2005. "Deposit insurance around the world : a comprehensive database," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3628, The World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Ayyagari, Meghana & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Maksimovic, Vojislav, 2012. "Financing of firms in developing countries : lessons from research," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6036, The World Bank.

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