NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Human Capital, Bankruptcy and Capital Structure

Jonathan B. Berk, Richard Stanton, Josef Zechner

NBER Working Paper No. 13014
Issued in April 2007
NBER Program(s):   AP   CF

We derive a firm's optimal capital structure and managerial compensation contract when employees are averse to bearing their own human capital risk, while equity holders can diversify this risk away. In the presence of corporate taxes, our model delivers optimal debt levels consistent with those observed in practice. It also makes a number of predictions for the cross-sectional distribution of firm leverage. Consistent with existing empirical evidence, it implies persistent idiosyncratic differences in leverage across firms. An important new empirical prediction of the model is that, ceteris paribus, firms with more leverage should pay higher wages.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13014

Published: Berk, Jonathan B., Richard Stanton,and Josef Zechner. "Human Capital, Bankruptcy and Capital Structure." Journal of Finance 65, 3 (June 2010): 891-926. citation courtesy of

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