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This paper explores the extent to which there are significant differences in disclosure requirements under US, UK, international accounting standards. Previous research into international disclosure diversity has focused on an analysis of disclosure practices in different countries rather than on disclosures required by regulations in different countries.
Financial disclosures required by UK professional regulations and by International Accounting Standards (IASs) are summarised and classified using Barth and Murphy’s (1994) categorisation by purpose of disclosure and by category and subject. US, UK and international required disclosures are compared and areas of divergence are highlighted.
Although differences in required disclosures between the three regulatory regimes are evident from the analysis, these differences are not significant in the multivariate models tested. A notable difference is greater required disclosures in the UK/IASs concerning entity structures (business combinations, consolidations, segmental reporting etc.).A greater proportion of US required disclosures address risks and potentials and assess returns. A much greater proportion of UK/IASs disclosures related to items recognised in accounts.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board is currently examining the issue of disclosure effectiveness in the US. By highlighting areas of diversity in required disclosures in the US, UK and internationally this study will add insights to this discussion of disclosure effectiveness.