Is Public Equity Deadly? Evidence from Workplace Safety and Productivity Tradeoffs in the Coal Industry
Charles A. Dice Working Paper No. 2021-05
63 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2021 Last revised: 26 Jul 2021
Date Written: July 19, 2021
We study how ownership structure, in particular public listing status, relates to workplace safety and productivity tradeoffs. Theory offers competing hypotheses on how listing-related frictions affect these tradeoffs. We exploit detailed asset-level data in the U.S. coal industry and find that workplace safety deteriorates dramatically under public firm ownership, primarily in mines that experience the largest productivity increases. Our results suggest that the tradeoff towards higher productivity and poorer workplace safety for public firms is concentrated in circumstances when information asymmetry problems between managers and shareholders are exacerbated, and when private firm owners’ ties to the local community are stronger.
Keywords: Ownership structure, public listing status, workplace safety, productivity, tradeoffs
JEL Classification: G30, G32, G34, J24, J38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation