Is Public Equity Deadly? Evidence from Workplace Safety and Productivity Tradeoffs in the Coal Industry

Fisher College of Business Working Paper No. 2021-03-005

Charles A. Dice Working Paper No. 2021-05

63 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2021 Last revised: 26 Jul 2021

See all articles by Erik Gilje

Erik Gilje

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Michael D. Wittry

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Finance

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 19, 2021

Abstract

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

Gilje, Erik and Wittry, Michael D., Is Public Equity Deadly? Evidence from Workplace Safety and Productivity Tradeoffs in the Coal Industry (July 19, 2021). Fisher College of Business Working Paper No. 2021-03-005, Charles A. Dice Working Paper No. 2021-05, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3810655 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3810655

Erik Gilje

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Michael D. Wittry (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Finance ( email )

854 Fisher Hall
2100 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1144
United States
614-292-3217 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://fisher.osu.edu/people/wittry.2

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