An Empirical Evaluation of Accounting Income Numbers

Ray Ball* and Philip Brown

Accounting theorists have generally evaluated the usefulness of accounting practices by the extent of their agreement with a particular analytic model. The model may consist of only a few assertions or it may be a rigorously developed argument. In each case, the method of evaluation has been to compare existing practices with the more preferable practices implied by the model or with some standard which the model implies all practices should possess. The shortcoming of this method is that it ignores a significant source of knowledge of the world, namely, the extent to which the predictions of the model conform to observed behavior.

It is not enough to defend an analytical ...

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