52 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2008
Date Written: January 2004
We document that accrual-based earnings management increased steadily from 1987 untilthe passage of the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX) in 2002, followed by a significant declineafter the passage of SOX. Conversely, the level of real earnings management activitiesdeclined prior to SOX and increased significantly after the passage of SOX, suggesting that firms switched from accrual-based to real earnings management methods after the passage of SOX. We also find evidence that the accrual-based earnings management activities were particularly high in the period immediately preceding SOX. Consistent with these results, we find that firms that just achieved important earnings benchmarks used less accruals and more real earnings management after SOX when compared to similar firms before SOX. Finally, our analysis provides evidence that the increases in accrual-based earnings management in the period preceding SOX were concurrent withincreases in the fraction of equity based compensation.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Cohen, Daniel A. and Dey, Aiyesha and Lys, Thomas Z., Real and Accrual-Based Earnings Management in the Pre- and Post-Sarbanes Oxley Periods (January 2004). NYU Working Paper No. DANIEL A. COHEN-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1280711