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Competition in the Audit Market: Policy Implications


  • Joseph J. Gerakos
  • Chad Syverson


The audit market's unique combination of features-its role in capital market transparency, mandated demand, and concentrated supply-means it receives considerable attention from policymakers. We explore the effects of two market scenarios that have been the focus of policy discussions: a) further supply concentration due to one of the "Big 4" auditors exiting and b) mandatory audit firm rotation. To do so, we first estimate publicly traded firms' demand for auditing services, treating services provided by each of the Big 4 as differentiated products. We then use those estimates to calculate how each scenario would affect client firms' consumer surplus. We estimate that, conservatively, exit by one of the Big 4 would reduce client firms' surplus by $1.2-1.8 billion per year. These estimates reflect only firms' lost options to hire the exiting auditor; they do not include the likely fee increases resulting from less competition among auditors. We calculate that the latter could result in audit fee increases between $0.3-0.5 billion per year. Such losses are substantial; by comparison, total audit fees for public firms were $11 billion in 2010. We find similarly large impacts from mandatory audit firm rotation, estimating consumer surplus losses at approximately $2.4-3.6 billion if rotation were required after ten years and $4.3-5.5 billion if rotation were mandatory after only four years.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph J. Gerakos & Chad Syverson, 2013. "Competition in the Audit Market: Policy Implications," NBER Working Papers 19251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19251
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mascha, Maureen Francis & Lamboy-Ruiz, Melvin A. & Janvrin, Diane J., 2018. "PCAOB inspections: An analysis of entity-level and application-level control audit deficiencies," International Journal of Accounting Information Systems, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 19-39.
    2. Chu, Ling & Simunic, Dan A. & Ye, Minlei & Zhang, Ping, 2018. "Transaction costs and competition among audit firms in local markets," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 129-147.
    3. Qiang Guo & Christopher Koch & Aiyong Zhu, 2017. "Joint audit, audit market structure, and consumer surplus," Review of Accounting Studies, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 1595-1627, December.
    4. Duguay, Raphael & Minnis, Michael & Sutherland, Andrew, 2019. "Regulatory Spillovers in Common Audit Markets," MPRA Paper 93669, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Joseph Gerakos & Chad Syverson, 2017. "Audit firms face downward-sloping demand curves and the audit market is far from perfectly competitive," Review of Accounting Studies, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 1582-1594, December.
    6. Fakhroddin MohammadRezaei & Norman Mohd‐Saleh, 2018. "Audit report lag: the role of auditor type and increased competition in the audit market," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 58(3), pages 885-920, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L84 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Personal, Professional, and Business Services
    • M42 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Auditing

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