Externalities of Financial Statement Fraud on the Incoming Accounting Labor Force
108 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2023
Date Written: July 24, 2023
Financial statement fraud generates many negative effects, including reducing people’s willingness to participate in the stock market. If it also stigmatizes accounting, it may similarly adversely affect the quantity and quality of workers willing to become accountants, thereby potentially creating negative effects for years to come. We examine the impact of fraud on the labor force entering the accounting profession, which is a key input into the production of accounting information (i.e., the output). Using data describing millions of college students across the U.S., we find incoming students are actually more likely to major in accounting when local frauds occur during their formative years. These students are also more likely to have attributes desired by the accounting profession (e.g., high academic aptitude) and are more likely to subsequently serve in public accounting and become CPAs. In the context of other fields (i.e., all college majors), we find that fraud similarly spurs interest in other business disciplines, but not in majors outside of business schools. Those attracted to other business disciplines, however, generally possess different traits. Specifically, students entering accounting are distinctively more likely to exhibit values espoused by the accounting profession, including a predisposition to public service and less commercial orientation. Thus, non-pecuniary motives appear to uniquely drive accounting student enrollment following fraud. Collectively, our findings suggest that, while fraud is unmistakably bad, it appears to have the positive unintended consequence of attracting labor into business disciplines and, in accounting, increasing the prevalence of desirable traits among entrants.
Keywords: Financial Statement Fraud, Accounting, Labor Force; Higher Education
JEL Classification: K42; M41; R10, I23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation