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Studying 30 countries, we find that the link between employee satisfaction and stock returns is significantly increasing in a country’s labor market flexibility. This result is consistent with employee satisfaction having greater recruitment, retention, and motivation benefits where firms face fewer hiring and firing constraints and employees have greater ability to respond to satisfaction. Labor market flexibility also increases the link between employee satisfaction and current valuation ratios, future profitability, and future earnings surprises, inconsistent with omitted risk factors and identifying channels through which employee satisfaction may affect stock returns. The findings have implications for the differential profitability of socially responsible investing strategies around the world – in particular, the importance of considering institutional factors when forming such strategies.

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