Capital structure and earnings management: evidence from Pakistan
International Journal of Accounting & Information Management
Article publication date: 23 November 2022
Issue publication date: 31 January 2023
The purpose of this study is to investigate whether capital structure affects accruals and real earnings management (AEM and REM) of nonfinancial firms listed on Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). Moreover, to investigate whether institutional development (ID) moderates the relation between capital structure and earnings management (EM).
Data were taken from annual reports of nonfinancial firms listed on the PSX during 2012–2019. Data of 150 firms for a period of eight years were found completed with respect to the variables used in this study. The generalized moments of methods estimator is used to estimate the effects of explanatory variables on earning management. Furthermore, fixed and random effects methods were used to estimate the impact of capital structure on AEM and REM.
Results show that all three measures of capital structure (i.e. total debt ratio, long-term debt ratio and short-term debt ratios) are inversely related to AEM. In contrast, all measures of capital structure are positively related to abnormal cash flow from operations. Total debt ratio and long-term debt ratio are negatively while short-term debt ratio is positively related to abnormal discretionary expenses. Total debt ratio and short-term debt ratio are significant and negatively related to abnormal production cost. Additionally, interaction terms of ID (i.e. rule of law and regulatory quality) significantly moderate the controlling role of debt on discretionary accruals. In sum, results show that the use of debt induces lender's monitoring. Consequently, managers move toward REM because of lower probability of being exposed.
Findings of this study have significant implications for managers and regulatory authorities. For instance, the use of debt increases the lender’s influence which restricts the managers to be involved in EM practices. Moreover, regulatory authorities are required to address the loopholes in regulations to refrain the managers to be engaged in EM.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study in Pakistan that has explored the impact of capital structure on AEM and REM. More importantly, a careful review of the literature affirms that this study is among the few studies that have used ID as a moderating variable to explain the relation between capital structure and EM.
The authors are really thankful to the chief editor of the Journal and anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments that have substantially improved the quality of the research paper.
Naz, A. and Sheikh, N.A. (2023), "Capital structure and earnings management: evidence from Pakistan", International Journal of Accounting & Information Management, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 128-147. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJAIM-08-2022-0163
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