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Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics Or Lower Propensity To Pay?

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  • Eugene F. Fama
  • Kenneth R. French

Abstract

The proportion of U.S. firms paying dividends drops sharply during the 1980s and 1990s. Among NYSE, AMEX, and Nasdaq firms, the proportion of dividend payers falls from 66.5% in 1978 to only 20.8% in 1999. The decline is due in part to an avalanche of new listings that tilts the population of publicly traded firms toward small firms with low profitability and strong growth opportunities-the timeworn characteristics of firms that typically do not pay dividends. But this is not the whole story. The authors' more striking finding is that, no matter what their characteristics, firms in general have become less likely to pay dividends. 2001 Morgan Stanley.

Suggested Citation

  • Eugene F. Fama & Kenneth R. French, 2001. "Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics Or Lower Propensity To Pay?," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 14(1), pages 67-79.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jacrfn:v:14:y:2001:i:1:p:67-79
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
    4. Jagannathan, Murali & Stephens, Clifford P. & Weisbach, Michael S., 2000. "Financial flexibility and the choice between dividends and stock repurchases," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 355-384, September.
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    6. DeAngelo, Harry & DeAngelo, Linda & Skinner, Douglas J, 1992. " Dividends and Losses," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(5), pages 1837-1863, December.
    7. Myers, Stewart C., 1984. "Capital structure puzzle," Working papers 1548-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    8. Easterbrook, Frank H, 1984. "Two Agency-Cost Explanations of Dividends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 650-659, September.
    9. Myers, Stewart C, 1984. " The Capital Structure Puzzle," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 575-592, July.
    10. Fama, Eugene F & MacBeth, James D, 1973. "Risk, Return, and Equilibrium: Empirical Tests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 607-636, May-June.
    11. Stewart C. Myers, 1984. "Capital Structure Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 1393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. DeAngelo, Harry & DeAngelo, Linda & Skinner, Douglas J., 2000. "Special dividends and the evolution of dividend signaling," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 309-354, September.
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