Heterogeneous Firms and Benefits of ESG Disclosure: Cost of Debt Financing in an Emerging Market

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Current challenging environments pressure firms to improve their overall ESG performance. However, there is tension between the benefits of ESG disclosure and firm performance. We deepen the understanding of ESG disclosure’s contribution to firms’ cost of debt in an emerging economy context. This issue is critical in Latin America–a region with reduced financing, ample company heterogeneity, and scarce evidence associating ESG disclosure and firms’ debt financing. Using fixed effects models, for the 2015–2020 period, we study Chilean listed firms. We explore two association channels between ESG disclosure and the cost of debt financing. Through a direct channel, greater disclosure relates to a lower cost; however, through an indirect channel, disclosure interacts with growth opportunities–a proxy for firms’ prospective risk–and greater disclosure relates to a higher cost. Hence, evidence suggests that ESG disclosure affects the cost of financing in two opposite directions. Our results delve into how ESG disclosure encloses essential economic implications, particularly in countries that have recently adopted ESG practices: For regulators, on developing rules of ESG disclosure that consider their financial effects; for firms, on enhancing their ESG communications policies; and finally, for creditors, on the need to introduce ESG indicators in their financing decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15760
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • ESG disclosure
  • Latin America
  • debt financing
  • emerging markets
  • firm performance


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