Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Earnings Management, Corporate Governance, State Pensions, Economic Information, Social Media, Discussion Groups

Major Advisor

Oskar Harmon

Associate Advisor

William Alpert

Associate Advisor

Kanda Naknoi

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The use of economic information drives economic agents’ actions in their pursuit of optimal outcomes; specifically, it helps individuals achieve the highest aggregate welfare possible given available resources. Firms face a tradeoff between earnings management (manipulation of reported profits) and corporate governance that results in an optimal firm value (profits over time); this determines the information provided to external parties and might lower aggregate welfare. Generally, investment in corporate governance is beneficial since accurate information is provided to the firm’s investors and other counterparties; however, in cases of high information opacity (e.g. complex firms) the higher cost of corporate governance might make earnings management a better societal outcome even though it reduces welfare. Public regulation might help in these most opaque cases, but at the higher cost of blanket regulation over firms that are capable of self-regulation through corporate governance. In the public (government) realm, the reported funding status of public employee pension funds faces similar manipulation issues as it provides information to members regarding their future benefits and to the public regarding potential future taxes. The variation in funding status across states suggests differences in the way states approach this obligation and in the transparency of the information they provide. Conveying this information affects individual action regarding public employment and migration across state lines, which would deteriorate the future tax base of poorly funded states, exacerbating their funding issue; therefore, states have reason to be opaque in reporting their myopic budgetary decisions similar to the earnings management of firms. Information provision from both the firm and the government relies on the ability of the individual to ingest and utilize it; this starts with discussions in the classroom. Application of economic reasoning to decision making is achieved by discussing economic concepts in an applied setting, both formally and informally. Social media is often seen as benefit in engaging students and all economic agents, but it can also serve to distract from critical thinking due to its informal nature. The lessons learned suggest firms and governments use social media to convey short, summary measures that can be interpreted by economic agents.