Disappearing dividends: changing firm characteristics or lower propensity to pay?
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.
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