25 Years IWH

Structural Change and Productivity

The department of structural change and productivity analyses dynamics of structural change driven, for instance, by technological progress or rearrangements in the institutional framework. Structural change causes prosperity and demise of regions, industries, and firms, and we use microeconometric methods to empirically assess these effects.

The focus is on productivity, innovation, and labour market outcomes such as employment, wages, or educational decisions. We devote special attention to the transformation process of the East German regions, initiated by the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the German unification. The Research Clusters "Markets and the State: Transforming Institutions" and "Productivity and Innovation" build the framework for our research agenda and the corresponding policy advice.

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Professor Dr Steffen Müller
Professor Dr Steffen Müller
Leiter - Department Structural Change and Productivity
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Refereed Publications


Does Administrative Status Matter for Urban Growth? – Evidence from Present and Former County Capitals in East Germany

Bastian Heider Martin T. W. Rosenfeld Albrecht Kauffmann

in: Growth and Change , forthcoming


Public sector activities are often neglected in the economic approaches used to analyze the driving forces behind urban growth. The institutional status of a regional capital is a crucial aspect of public sector activities. This paper reports on a quasi-natural experiment on county towns in East Germany. Since 1990, cities in East Germany have demonstrated remarkable differences in population development. During this same period, many towns have lost their status as a county seat due to several administrative reforms. Using a difference-in-difference approach, the annual population development of former county capitals is compared to population change in towns that have successfully held on to their capital status throughout the observed period. The estimations show that maintaining county capital status has a statistically significant positive effect on annual changes in population. This effect is furthermore increasing over time after the implementation of the respective reforms.

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Do Employers Have More Monopsony Power in Slack Labor Markets?

Boris Hirsch Elke J. Jahn Claus Schnabel

in: Industrial and Labor Relations Review , forthcoming


This article confronts monopsony theory’s predictions regarding workers’ wages with observed wage patterns over the business cycle. Using German administrative data for the years 1985 to 2010 and an estimation framework based on duration models, the authors construct a time series of the labor supply elasticity to the firm and estimate its relationship to the unemployment rate. They find that firms possess more monopsony power during economic downturns. Half of this cyclicality stems from workers’ job separations being less wage driven when unemployment rises, and the other half mirrors that firms find it relatively easier to poach workers. Results show that the cyclicality is more pronounced in tight labor markets with low unemployment, and that the findings are robust to controlling for time-invariant unobserved worker or plant heterogeneity. The authors further document that cyclical changes in workers’ entry wages are of similar magnitude as those predicted under pure monopsonistic wage setting.

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Benchmark Value-added Chains and Regional Clusters in R&D-intensive Industries

Reinhold Kosfeld Mirko Titze

in: International Regional Science Review , forthcoming


Although the phase of euphoria seems to be over, policy makers and regional agencies have maintained their interest in cluster policy. Modern cluster theory provides reasons for positive external effects that may accrue from interaction in a group of proximate enterprises operating in common and related fields. Although there has been some progress in locating clusters, in most cases only limited knowledge on the geographical extent of regional clusters has been established. In the present article, we present a hybrid approach to cluster identification. Dominant buyer–supplier relationships are derived by qualitative input–output analysis from national input–output tables, and potential regional clusters are identified by spatial scanning. This procedure is employed to identify clusters of German research and development-intensive industries. A sensitivity analysis reveals good robustness properties of the hybrid approach with respect to variations in the quantitative cluster composition.

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Why Is there Resistance to Works Councils?

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Economic and Industrial Democracy , forthcoming

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Coming to Work While Sick: An Economic Theory of Presenteeism With an Application to German Data

Boris Hirsch Daniel S. J. Lechmann Claus Schnabel

in: Oxford Economic Papers , No. 4, 2017


Presenteeism, i.e. attending work while sick, is widespread and associated with significant costs. Still, economic analyses of this phenomenon are rare. In a theoretical model, we show that presenteeism arises due to differences between workers in (healthrelated) disutility from workplace attendance. As these differences are unobservable by employers, they set wages that incentivise sick workers to attend work. Using a large representative German data set, we test several hypotheses derived from our model. In line with our predictions, we find that bad health status and stressful working conditions are positively related to presenteeism. Better dismissal protection, captured by higher tenure, is associated with slightly fewer presenteeism days, whereas the role of productivity and skills is inconclusive.

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Working Papers


Measuring Indirect Effects of Unfair Employer Behavior on Worker Productivity – A Field Experiment

Matthias Heinz Sabrina Jeworrek Vanessa Mertins Heiner Schumacher Matthias Sutter

in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 26, 2017


We present a field experiment in which we set up a call-center to study how the productivity of workers is affected if managers treat their co-workers in an unfair way. This question cannot be studied in long-lived organizations since workers may change their career expectations (and hence effort) when managers behave unfairly towards co-workers. In order to rule out such confounds and to measure productivity changes of unaffected workers in a clean way, we create an environment where employees work for two shifts. In one treatment, we lay off parts of the workforce before the second shift. Compared to two different control treatments, we find that, in the layoff treatment, the productivity of the remaining, unaffected workers drops by 12 percent. We show that this result is not driven by peer effects or altered beliefs about the job or the managers’ competence, but rather related to the workers’ perception of unfair behavior of employers towards co-workers. The latter interpretation is confirmed in a survey among professional HR managers. We also show that the effect of unfair behavior on the productivity of unaffected workers is close to the upper bound of the direct effects of wage cuts on the productivity of affected workers. This suggests that the price of an employer’s unfair behavior goes well beyond the potential tit-for-tat of directly affected workers.

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Who Benefits from GRW? Heterogeneous Employment Effects of Investment Subsidies in Saxony Anhalt

Eva Dettmann Mirko Titze Antje Weyh

in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 27, 2017


The paper estimates the plant level employment effects of investment subsidies in one of the most strongly subsidized German Federal States. We analyze the treated plants as a whole, as well as the influence of heterogeneity in plant characteristics and the economic environment. Modifying the standard matching and difference-in-difference approach, we develop a new procedure that is particularly useful for the evaluation of funding programs with individual treatment phases within the funding period. Our data base combines treatment, employment and regional information from different sources. So, we can relate the absolute effects to the amount of the subsidy paid. The results suggest that investment subsidies have a positive influence on the employment development in absolute and standardized figures – with considerable effect heterogeneity.

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Why is there Resistance to Works Councils in Germany? An Economic Perspective

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 23, 2017


Recent empirical research generally finds evidence of positive economic effects of works councils, for example with regard to productivity and – with some limitations – to profits. This makes it necessary to explain why employers’ associations have reservations against works councils. On the basis of an in-depth literature analysis, we show that beyond the generally positive findings, there are important heterogeneities in the impact of works councils. We argue that those groups of employers that tend to benefit little from employee participation in terms of productivity and profits may well be important enough to shape the agenda of their employers’ organisation and even gained in importance within their organisations in recent years. We also discuss the role of deviations from profit-maximising behaviour like risk aversion, short-term profit maximisation, and other non-pecuniary motives, as possible reasons for employer resistance.

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Macroprudential Policy and Intra-group Dynamics: The Effects of Reserve Requirements in Brazil

Chris Becker Matias Ossandon Busch Lena Tonzer

in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 21, 2017


This paper examines whether intra-group dynamics matter for the transmission of macroprudential policy. Using novel bank-level data on the Brazilian banking system, we investigate the effect of reserve requirements targeting headquarter banks’ deposit share on credit supply by their municipal bank branches. For identification purposes, we exploit that reserve requirements are adjusted following global economic cycles. Our results reveal a lending channel of reserve requirements for branches whose parent banks are more exposed to targeted deposits. Branch ownership and exposure to internal liquidity are central in explaining the results. Our findings reveal limitations in current macroprudential policy frameworks.

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Central Bank Transparency and the Volatility of Exchange Rates

Stefan Eichler Helge Littke

in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 22, 2017


We analyze the effect of monetary policy transparency on bilateral exchange rate volatility. We test the theoretical predictions of a stylized model using panel data for 62 currencies from 1998 to 2010. We find strong empirical evidence that an increase in the availability of information about monetary policy objectives decreases exchange rate volatility. Using interaction models, we find that this effect is more pronounced for countries with a lower flexibility of goods prices, a lower level of central bank conservatism, and a higher interest rate sensitivity of money demand.

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