DP9834 | Corporate Scandals and Household Stock Market Participation

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We show that after the revelation of corporate fraud in a state, the equity holdings of households in that state decrease significantly both in the extensive and the intensive margins. Using an exogenous shock to fraud detection and exogenous variation in households? lifetime experiences of corporate fraud, we establish that the impact of fraud revelation in local companies on household stock market participation is causal. Even households that did not hold stocks in the fraudulent firms decrease their equity holdings, and all households decrease their holdings in fraudulent firms as well as non-fraudulent firms. As a consequence of the decrease in local households? demand for equity, firms headquartered in the same state as the fraudulent firms experience a decrease in valuation and in the number of shareholders.