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Labor unemployment risk and corporate financing decisions

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  • Agrawal, Ashwini K.
  • Matsa, David A.

Abstract

This paper presents evidence that firms choose conservative financial policies partly to mitigate workers' exposure to unemployment risk. We exploit changes in state unemployment insurance laws as a source of variation in the costs borne by workers during layoff spells. We find that higher unemployment benefits lead to increased corporate leverage, particularly for labor-intensive and financially constrained firms. We estimate the ex ante, indirect costs of financial distress due to unemployment risk to be about 60 basis points of firm value for a typical BBB-rated firm. The findings suggest that labor market frictions have a significant impact on corporate financing decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Agrawal, Ashwini K. & Matsa, David A., 2013. "Labor unemployment risk and corporate financing decisions," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 69608, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:69608
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    capital structure; financial distress; unemployed risk; compensating wage differential;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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