We examine the consequences of firms' disaggregation choices for auditor effort and audited financial statements. We document a significant positive association between disaggregation and audit fees, our proxy for auditor effort. Using separate measures of disaggregation of smaller line items versus larger, obviously material, line items, we provide evidence that one of the avenues through which disaggregation may increase auditor effort is through changes in auditors' assessments of materiality for smaller line items, especially when financial statement scrutiny is high. We also find disaggregation (and the audit fees associated with disaggregation) constrain the ability of managers to manipulate earnings in the audited financial statements compared to the unaudited financial statements, suggesting the fee response to disaggregation is due to auditor effort. Last, we provide evidence that our results are not fully explained by client litigation risk or other client attributes driving disaggregation choices.

JEL Classifications: M41; M42.

You do not currently have access to this content.