CFO Gender and Earnings Management: Evidence from China

Publication Date


Document Type

Working Paper


Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting May 2016, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 881–905 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11156-014-0490-0


We study the effect of chief financial officer (CFO) gender on earnings management (EM) in China’s listed firms from 1999 to 2011. In the cross-sectional analysis, we find that female CFO firm-years exhibit significantly lower discretionary accruals, lower total accruals, lower abnormal production costs, and higher abnormal discretionary expenditures, than the male CFO firm-years. We further examine the relation between CFO gender and EM surrounding CFO transitions. We find that the departing male CFOs are more aggressive than the departing female CFOs in managing up earnings during their last year with the firm and the newly appointed male CFOs are more aggressive than the new female CFOs in managing down earnings during their first year on the job. The evidence surrounding CFO transitions suggests that male CFOs are more aggressive than female CFOs in manipulating earnings, either in the last attempt to save their jobs or to take bigger credit for any future performance gains. Overall, our empirical evidence suggests that female CFOs engage in less EM and are more conservative in financial reporting than their male counterparts.