ABSTRACT: Many factors, including Sarbanes‐Oxley, fueled an increase in demand for accountants in recent years, particularly those who are professionally certified, so that demand exceeded supply in the U.S. (Anonymous 2007) and elsewhere (Hambly 2007). Future challenges facing the profession, such as implementing XBRL and IFRS, may also increase demand, perhaps again creating shortages. It is within this context that we examine the issue of the shortage of accountants by focusing on factors that affect supply. We study trends in two types of data: graduation rates for accounting majors (i.e., the number of accounting graduates divided by total business majors) and CPA exam candidacy. The former provides a measure of the total pool of potential CPA exam candidates and the latter is the subset of those who are attempting to become professionally certified. Various studies have observed a decline in CPA exam candidacy and have proposed that it results from the additional education requirement associated with the 150‐hour rule (e.g., Allen and Woodland 2006). Several states have reacted by allowing candidates to take the CPA exam with 120 hours of education rather than 150 hours in order to increase supply. Following this line of reasoning, we should observe declines in candidacy and graduation rates only in states that have adopted the 150‐hour requirement, but not in states that retained the 120‐hour requirement. However, in our extension of existing studies that did not segment data by type of jurisdiction, we find similar rates of decline regardless of whether the candidacy requirement changed to 150 hours or remained at 120 hours. Thus, while some individuals may be deterred by the additional education costs, the finding of no jurisdictional difference in graduation and candidacy rates suggests that policy makers need to consider a variety of issues to comprehensively address shortages in the supply of accountants.

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