The Disappearing Delaware Effect
Harvard Business School
Journal of Law, Economics & Organization, Vol. 20, No. 1, April 2004
Refining and extending the methodology introduced by Daines (2001), I present evidence that small Delaware firms were worth more than small non-Delaware firms during the period 1991-1996 but not afterwards. I also present evidence that larger firms, which comprise 98% of my sample by size, exhibit no Delaware effect for any year during the period 1991-2002. Thus the Delaware effect "disappears" when examined over time and when examined for firms that are economically meaningful. These new contours of the Delaware effect suggest that the benefit associated with Delaware incorporation was an order of magnitude smaller than estimated by Daines (2001) during the early 1990s, and non-existent by the late 1990s. The trajectory of the Delaware effect further suggests that it cannot provide support for the "race to the top" view of regulatory competition, as some commentators have argued, and may in fact provide support for the "race to the bottom" view. Finally, the findings presented here identify two puzzles: first, why did small Delaware firms exhibit a positive Delaware effect during the early 1990s but larger firms did not? And second, why did this effect disappear in the late 1990s? I identify doctrinal changes in Delaware corporate law in the mid-1990s, increased managerial incentives to sell during this period, and a cohort selection effect during the 1980s as potential explanations.
JEL Classification: G30, G34, K22
Date posted: October 28, 2003
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