Transferability of Skills across Sectors and Heterogeneous Displacement Costs
American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings,
We use rich German administrative data to estimate new measures of skill transferability between manufacturing and other sectors. These measures capture the value of workers' human capital when applied in different sectors and are directly related to workers' displacement costs. We estimate these transferability measures using a selection correction model, which addresses workers' endogenous mobility, and a novel selection instrument based on the social network of workers. Our results indicate substantial heterogeneity in how workers can transfer their skills when they move across sectors, which implies heterogeneous displacement costs that depend on the sector to which workers reallocate.
Complex-task Biased Technological Change and the Labor Market
Review of Economic Dynamics,
In this paper we study the relationship between task complexity and the occupational wage- and employment structure. Complex tasks are defined as those requiring higher-order skills, such as the ability to abstract, solve problems, make decisions, or communicate effectively. We measure the task complexity of an occupation by performing Principal Component Analysis on a broad set of occupational descriptors in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) data. We establish four main empirical facts for the U.S. over the 1980–2005 time period that are robust to the inclusion of a detailed set of controls, subsamples, and levels of aggregation: (1) There is a positive relationship across occupations between task complexity and wages and wage growth; (2) Conditional on task complexity, routine-intensity of an occupation is not a significant predictor of wage growth and wage levels; (3) Labor has reallocated from less complex to more complex occupations over time; (4) Within groups of occupations with similar task complexity labor has reallocated to non-routine occupations over time. We then formulate a model of Complex-Task Biased Technological Change with heterogeneous skills and show analytically that it can rationalize these facts. We conclude that workers in non-routine occupations with low ability of solving complex tasks are not shielded from the labor market effects of automatization.
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Social Comparisons and Attitudes towards Foreigners. Evidence from the ‘Fall of the Iron Curtain’
IWH Discussion Papers,
We exploit the natural experiment of German re-unification to address the question whether distress from social (income) comparisons results in negative attitudes towards foreigners. Our empirical approach rests upon East German individuals who have West German peers. We use the exogenous variation of wealth of West German peers shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall as an instrument to identify the effect of distress from social comparisons on East Germans’ attitudes. We find robust evidence that East Germans expose strong negative attitudes towards foreigners, particularly from low-wage countries, if they worry about their economic status compared to better-off peers.
How Selective Are Real Wage Cuts? A Micro-analysis Using Linked Employer–Employee Data
LABOUR: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations,
Using linked employer–employee panel data for Germany, we investigate whether firms implement real wage reductions in a selective manner. In line with insider–outsider and several strands of efficiency wage theory, we find strong evidence for selective wage cuts with high-productivity workers being spared even when controlling for permanent differences in firms' wage policies. In contrast to some recent contributions stressing fairness considerations, we also find that wage cuts increase wage dispersion among peers rather than narrowing it. Notably, the same selectivity pattern shows up when restricting our analysis to firms covered by collective agreements or having a works council.
A Weighty Issue Revisited: The Dynamic Effect of Body Weight on Earnings and Satisfaction in Germany
We estimate the relationship between changes in the body mass index (bmi) and wages or satisfaction, respectively, in a panel of German employees. In contrast to previous findings, our dynamic models indicate an inverse u-shaped association between bmi and wages. As the implied maximum occurs in the ‘overweight’ category, the positive trend in weight may not yet constitute a major limitation to productivity. Further investigation points out a stronger association among young workers and workers with jobs that are less protected. Work satisfaction of young workers is associated with bmi beyond the effect of earnings.
Understanding the Great Recession
American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics,
We argue that the vast bulk of movements in aggregate real economic activity during the Great Recession were due to financial frictions. We reach this conclusion by looking through the lens of an estimated New Keynesian model in which firms face moderate degrees of price rigidities, no nominal rigidities in wages, and a binding zero lower bound constraint on the nominal interest rate. Our model does a good job of accounting for the joint behavior of labor and goods markets, as well as inflation, during the Great Recession. According to the model the observed fall in total factor productivity and the rise in the cost of working capital played critical roles in accounting for the small drop in inflation that occurred during the Great Recession.
The Levelling Effect of Product Market Competition on Gender Wage Discrimination
IZA Journal of Labor Economics,
Using linked employer–employee panel data for West Germany that include direct information on the competition faced by plants, we investigate the effect of product market competition on the gender pay gap. Controlling for match fixed effects, we find that intensified competition significantly lowers the unexplained gap in plants with neither collective agreements nor a works council. Conversely, there is no effect in plants with these types of worker codetermination, which are unlikely to have enough discretion to adjust wages in the short run. We also document a larger competition effect in plants with few females in their workforces. Our findings are in line with Beckerian taste-based employer wage discrimination that is limited by competitive forces.