Does Sunlight Kill Germs? Stock Market Listing and Workplace Safety
Date: 2021-10-21


Dr. Rengong Zhang is an assistant professor at The City University of Hong Kong. His research interests are corporate social responsibility, industrial injury, financial accounting, and management accounting.  His research papers have been published in journals such as Journal of Operations Management and Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting.  Dr. Rengong Zhang teaches the Master of Financial Reporting and undertakes a number of research and teaching projects.  Dr. Rengong Zhang received his Ph. D. degree from the University of Alberta, Canada.  


We find that, on average, workplace injuries in publicly-listed firms are lower than those in comparable private firms. This finding is robust to multiple tests designed to mitigate endogeneity concerns regarding a firm’s listing status. Further investigation suggests that the benefit of a public listing for workplace safety relates to heightened monitoring of listed firms by the media and regulators. The listing effect is more pronounced when media coverage is high. We further find that public firms located in counties facing reduced media scrutiny, due to local newspaper closures, experience greater increases in injury rates than local private counterparts after the closures. Regulators also impose more stringent monitoring on public firms, evidenced by a higher likelihood of nonroutine inspections and larger penalties on detected violations. Overall, our study highlights the positive impact of a stock market listing on workplace safety.