Accounting Standards, Earnings Management, and Earnings Quality

Ralf Ewert

University of Graz - Institute of Accounting and Auditing

Alfred Wagenhofer

University of Graz

April 30, 2013

This paper examines how the characteristics of accounting systems and management incentives interact and collectively determine financial reporting quality. We develop a rational expectations equilibrium model that features a steady-state firm with investments, financial and non-financial information, and earnings management opportunities. We measure earnings quality by the information content of earnings in equilibrium. The analysis confirms some intuitive results, such as that earnings quality increases in accounting precision. However, we also find counter-intuitive results, such as that an accounting standard that makes unbiased accounting earnings more informative can reduce earnings quality. These results are mainly driven by an interaction between managers’ smoothing incentives and smoothing provided by the accounting standard. Finally, we study value relevance measures and show that they trace the changes in earnings quality accurately for the variation of some and not of other characteristics of the accounting system.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 60

Keywords: earnings quality, earnings management, accounting standards, value relevance, earnings response coefficient

JEL Classification: D80, G12, G14, M41, M43

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Date posted: May 28, 2012 ; Last revised: April 30, 2013

Suggested Citation

Ewert, Ralf and Wagenhofer, Alfred, Accounting Standards, Earnings Management, and Earnings Quality (April 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2068134 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2068134

Contact Information

Ralf Ewert (Contact Author)
University of Graz - Institute of Accounting and Auditing ( email )
Universitaetsstr. 15/F1
Graz, A-8010
+43 (0) 316 380-3470 (Phone)
+43 (0) 316 380-9540 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.uni-graz.at/iuwp/
Alfred Wagenhofer
University of Graz ( email )
+43 316 380 3500 (Phone)
+43 316 380 9565 (Fax)
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