IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Dividend policy, creditor rights, and the agency costs of debt

  • Brockman, Paul
  • Unlu, Emre
Registered author(s):

    We show that country-level creditor rights influence dividend policies around the world by establishing the balance of power between debt and equity claimants. Creditors demand and managers consent to a more restrictive payout policy as a substitute for weak creditor rights in an effort to minimize the firm's agency costs of debt. Using a sample of 120,507 firm-years from 52 countries, we find that both the probability and amount of dividend payouts are significantly lower in countries with poor creditor rights. A reduction in the creditor rights index from its highest value to its lowest value implies a 41% reduction in the probability of paying a dividend, and a 60% reduction in dividend payout ratios. These results are robust to numerous control variables, sample variations, model specifications, and alternative hypotheses. We also show that the agency costs of debt play a more decisive role in determining dividend policies than the previously documented agency costs of equity. Overall, our findings contribute to the growing literature arguing that creditors exert significant influence over corporate decision-making outside of bankruptcy.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VBX-4VJ0DJD-1/2/c7132354cdbdb253a3c3586f60d84d61
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Financial Economics.

    Volume (Year): 92 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 276-299

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:92:y:2009:i:2:p:276-299
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Lee Pinkowitz & Rene M. Stulz & Rohan Williamson, 2003. "Do Firms in Countries with Poor Protection of Investor Rights Hold More Cash?," NBER Working Papers 10188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Paul Mather & Graham Peirson, 2006. "Financial covenants in the markets for public and private debt," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 46(2), pages 285-307.
    3. DeAngelo, Harry & DeAngelo, Linda & Stulz, Rene M., 2006. "Dividend policy and the earned/contributed capital mix: a test of the life-cycle theory," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 227-254, August.
    4. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-79, April.
    5. Smith, Clifford Jr. & Warner, Jerold B., 1979. "On financial contracting : An analysis of bond covenants," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 117-161, June.
    6. Khurana, Inder K. & Martin, Xiumin & Pereira, Raynolde, 2006. "Financial Development and the Cash Flow Sensitivity of Cash," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(04), pages 787-808, December.
    7. 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 607-36, May-June.
    8. Denis, Diane K. & McConnell, John J., 2003. "International Corporate Governance," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(01), pages 1-36, March.
    9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," NBER Working Papers 5661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Simeon Djankov & Oliver Hart & Caralee McLiesh & Andrei Shleifer, 2006. "Debt Enforcement Around the World," NBER Working Papers 12807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 2000. "Agency Problems and Dividend Policies around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(1), pages 1-33, 02.
    12. Gustavo Grullon & Roni Michaely & Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 2005. "Dividend Changes Do Not Signal Changes in Future Profitability," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(5), pages 1659-1682, September.
    13. Djankov, Simeon & McLiesh, Caralee & Shleifer, Andrei, 2007. "Private credit in 129 countries," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 299-329, May.
    14. Denis, David J. & Osobov, Igor, 2008. "Why do firms pay dividends? International evidence on the determinants of dividend policy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 62-82, July.
    15. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-50, July.
    16. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, . "What Works in Securities Laws?," Working Paper 19491, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    17. Demirguc-Kunt, Ash & Levine, Ross, 1996. "Stock Market Development and Financial Intermediaries: Stylized Facts," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 291-321, May.
    18. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2008. "The law and economics of self-dealing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 430-465, June.
    19. Bhattacharya, Utpal & Daouk, Hazem & Welker, Michael, 2003. "The World Price of Earnings Opacity," Working Papers 127185, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    20. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1996. "Financial Dependence and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1999. "Investor Protection and Corporate Valuation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1882, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    22. Esty, Benjamin C. & Megginson, William L., 2003. "Creditor Rights, Enforcement, and Debt Ownership Structure: Evidence from the Global Syndicated Loan Market," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(01), pages 37-60, March.
    23. Eugene F. Fama & Kenneth R. French, 1998. "Taxes, Financing Decisions, and Firm Value," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(3), pages 819-843, 06.
    24. Leuz, Christian & Nanda, Dhananjay & Wysocki, Peter D., 2003. "Earnings management and investor protection: an international comparison," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 505-527, September.
    25. Dittmar, Amy & Mahrt-Smith, Jan & Servaes, Henri, 2003. "International Corporate Governance and Corporate Cash Holdings," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(01), pages 111-133, March.
    26. DeAngelo, Harry & DeAngelo, Linda, 2006. "The irrelevance of the MM dividend irrelevance theorem," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 293-315, February.
    27. Larry H. P. Lang & Mara Faccio & Leslie Young, 2001. "Dividends and Expropriation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 54-78, March.
    28. John, Kose & Nachman, David C, 1985. " Risky Debt, Investment Incentives, and Reputation in a Sequential Equilibrium," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 863-78, July.
    29. Inessa Love, 2003. "Financial Development and Financing Constraints: International Evidence from the Structural Investment Model," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 765-791, July.
    30. Long, Michael S. & Malitz, Ileen B. & Sefcik, Stephan E., 1994. "An Empirical Examination of Dividend Policy Following Debt Issues," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(01), pages 131-144, March.
    31. Easterbrook, Frank H, 1984. "Two Agency-Cost Explanations of Dividends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 650-59, September.
    32. Jyrki Niskanen & Mervi Niskanen, 2004. "Covenants and Small Business Lending: The Finnish Case," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 137-149, 09.
    33. Jeffrey Wurgler, 1999. "Financial Markets And The Allocation Of Capital," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm123, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Mar 2001.
    34. Kalay, Avner, 1982. "Stockholder-bondholder conflict and dividend constraints," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 211-233, July.
    35. Claessens, Stijn & Djankov, Simeon & Lang, Larry H. P., 2000. "The separation of ownership and control in East Asian Corporations," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 81-112.
    36. Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Vojislav Maksimovic, 1998. "Law, Finance, and Firm Growth," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 2107-2137, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:92:y:2009:i:2:p:276-299. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.