How does accounting and auditing regulations affect firm growth and cost of capital?

Abstract: This thesis provides an understanding of how new audit regulation affect firm growth and how audits affect the cost of capital. To investigate the effect of audit reforms on employment growth, we exploited a Swedish reform made in November 2010 that gave certain firms the option to opt out of previously imposed statutory audits. We find that firms which fulfilled the requirements for voluntary auditing, compared to a control group of similar firms that did not, increased their employment growth rate by 0.39%. Furthermore, the reform was also exploited to investigate if audited financial statements add value for firms in the private debt market. We find that firms with audited financial statements, on average, save 1.26 percentage points on cost of debt compared to firms with unaudited financial statements. Thus, the reform creates a possibility for firms that have the ambition to grow in employment to do so by not auditing, and those who want to grow by investments in capital to do so by reducing the cost of such investments by auditing. However, the current ceiling of the reform is also likely to force some firms to operate at sub-optimal levels, those without having the option to opt out of audit even though they might not accrue any benefit from auditing, at least in the short-run. One can argue that is partly due to how institutions evolve, generally slower than other actors in the society do.