March 2012

The Relationship Between Information Asymmetry and Dividend Policy

Cindy M. Vojtech


This paper examines how the quality of firm information disclosure affects shareholders' use of dividends to mitigate agency problems. Managerial compensation is linked to firm value. However, because the manager and shareholders are asymmetrically informed, the manager can manipulate the firm's accounting information to increase perceived firm value. Dividends can limit such practices by adding to the cost faced by a manager manipulating earnings. Empirical tests match model predictions. Dividend-paying firms show less evidence of earnings management. Furthermore, nondividend payers changed earnings announcement behavior more than dividend payers following the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law that increased financial disclosures.

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Keywords: Dividends, earnings management, information asymmetry, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, financial disclosure

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Last Update: July 10, 2020