Using a longitudinal data set of balance sheets of 504 nonprofit and for-profit firms operating in the social residential sector in Italy, we investigate the relationship between capital structure and type of enterprise.
The nondistribution constraint typical of nonprofit organizations increases the fraction of own capital on total investment: this is shown, by means of a theoretical moral hazard model, to reduce
their leverage (i).
By contrast, the intrinsecally high commitment of nonprofit entrepreneurs weakens the moral hazard problem: this augments leverage (ii).
Our empirical analysis shows that once control for observable characteristics for-profit companies have a leverage 6% higher than nonprofit enterprises, even if the latter faces lower credit costs.
We explain this finding by arguing that effect (i) prevails on effect (ii).
Keywords: for-profit and nonprofit enterprises; capital structure
JEL Codes: A13, D21, D82, G32