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

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: May 2021

Abstract

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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Suggested Citation

Gilje, Erik and Wittry, Michael D., Is Public Equity Deadly? Evidence from Workplace Safety and Productivity Tradeoffs in the Coal Industry (May 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28798, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3847543

Erik Gilje (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
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Michael D. Wittry

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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