An International Comparison of Capital Structure and Debt Maturity Choices
Joseph P. H. Fan
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - School of Accountancy
Garry J. Twite
University of Melbourne - Department of Finance; University of Melbourne - Faculty of Business and Economics; Financial Research Network (FIRN)
University of Texas at Austin - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
October 4, 2011
AFA 2005 Philadelphia Meetings
This study examines the influence of institutional environment on capital structure and debt maturity choices by examining a cross-section of firms in 39 developed and developing countries. We find that a country’s legal and tax system, the level of corruption and the preferences of capital suppliers explain a significant portion of the variation in leverage and debt maturity ratios. Our evidence indicate that firms in countries that are viewed as more corrupt tend to use less equity and more debt, especially short-term debt, while firms operating within legal systems that provide better protection for financial claimants tend to have capital structures with more equity, and relatively more long-term debt. In addition, the existence of an explicit bankruptcy code and/or deposit insurance is associated with higher leverage and more long-term debt. We also find that firms tend to use more debt in countries where there is a greater tax gain from leverage, while firms in countries with larger government bond markets have lower leverage, suggesting that government bonds tend to crowd out corporate debt. Countries with more extensive defined benefit pension funds have higher debt ratios and longer debt maturities, whereas those with more extensive defined contribution fund activities have lower debt ratios. In addition, debt ratios are lower in countries that limit the bond holdings of pension funds. Finally, we do not find a significant association between financing choices and the size of the insurance industry.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 55
Keywords: Capital structure, Debt maturity
JEL Classification: G30, G32
Date posted: December 27, 2004 ; Last revised: October 4, 2011
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