Article | Journal of Accounting Research | May 2010

Elections and Discretionary Accruals: Evidence from 2004

by Karthik Ramanna and Sugata Roychowdhury


We examine the accrual choices of outsourcing firms with links to U.S. congressional candidates during the 2004 elections, when corporate outsourcing was a major campaign issue. We find that politically connected firms with more extensive outsourcing activities have more income-decreasing discretionary accruals. Further, relative to adjacent periods, the evidence is concentrated in the two calendar quarters immediately preceding the 2004 election, consistent with heightened incentives for firms to manage earnings during the election season. The incentives can be attributed to donor firms' concerns about the potentially negative consequences of scrutiny over outsourcing for themselves and for their affiliated candidates.

Keywords: political economy; accounting information; accruals management; campaign contributions; discretionary accruals; earnings management; election outcomes; political currency; political process; Social Issues; Political Elections; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Motivation and Incentives; Earnings Management; Welfare or Wellbeing; United States;


Ramanna, Karthik, and Sugata Roychowdhury. "Elections and Discretionary Accruals: Evidence from 2004." Journal of Accounting Research 48, no. 2 (May 2010): 445–475. (Solicited for presentation at the 2009 Journal of Accounting Research Conference.)