Is Public Equity Deadly? Evidence from Workplace Safety and Productivity Tradeoffs in the Coal Industry
63 Pages Posted: 17 May 2021 Last revised: 10 Mar 2022
Date Written: May 2021
We study how ownership structure, in particular public listing status, affects 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. We find evidence consistent with information asymmetry between managers and shareholders of public firms, and ties of private firm ownership with local communities being first-order drivers of workplace safety and productivity tradeoffs.
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