Culture, Agency Costs, and Dividends
46 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2008 Last revised: 5 Mar 2015
Date Written: April 21, 2010
This paper presents a culturally rooted agency explanation for differences in dividend payout policies around the world. We conjecture that the social normative nature of culture influences the character of agency relations and determines the acceptance and legitimacy of different dividend payout strategies across different countries. By linking dividends to cultural differences across 5,797 firms in 41 countries, our analysis shows that high individualism, low power distance, and low uncertainty avoidance are significantly associated with higher dividend payouts. A comprehensive set of robustness tests in which we control for legal institutions, share repurchases, corporate debt ratios, and ownership structures confirms that culture is a relevant factor when analyzing dividend distributions. Our results further show that legal institutions and culture as a social institution have complementary effects on dividend payouts. Overall, our finding that culture matters suggests important implications for a wide range of agency-based economic and capital market phenomena.
Keywords: Dividends, Agency Problems, Culture, Law and Finance
JEL Classification: G28, G35, K00, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation