This study investigates how religiosity (i.e., the strength of religion) differences across countries influence an important characteristic of financial reporting, accounting conservatism. Prior literature suggests that religious individuals are more risk averse and have higher ethical standards, while accounting conservatism has been shown to reduce various risks to the firm (e.g., bankruptcy and stock price crashes) at the expense of higher reported earnings. We find that managers in more religious societies report more conservatively. Specifically, our cross-country analysis reveals that firms headquartered in countries with higher levels of religiosity exhibit, on average, higher accounting conservatism in financial reporting. This positive association is stronger in countries following IFRS or U.S. GAAP, and weaker in countries with a high degree of uncertainty avoidance, strong legal enforcement, and countries with greater numbers of religions.
JEL Classifications: G34; M41; Z12.
Data Availability: Data are available from the public sources cited in the text.