Review of Accounting Studies

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 267-284

First online:

Bankruptcy classification errors in the 1980s: An empirical analysis of Altman's and Ohlson's models

  • Joy BegleyAffiliated withUniversity of British Columbia
  • , Jin MingAffiliated withShanghai Jiao Tong University
  • , Susan WattsAffiliated withIndiana University

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Empirical accounting researchers often use Altman's (1968) and Ohlson's (1980) bankruptcy prediction models as indicators of financial distress. While these models performed relatively well when they were estimated, we show that they do not perform as well in more recent periods (in particular, the 1980s), even when the coefficients are re-estimated. When we compare the performance of Ohlson's original model to our re-estimated version of his model and to that of Altman's original and re-estimated models, we find that Ohlson's original model displays the strongest overall performance. Given that Ohlson's original model is frequently used in academic research as an indicator of financial distress, its strong performance in this study supports its use as a preferred model.