Structural Change and Productivity

The department of structural change and productivity analyses dynamics of structural change driven, for instance, by globalization or technological progress. Structural change causes prosperity and demise of regions, industries, and firms, and we use microeconometric methods to empirically assess these effects. The department staffs the secretariat of the Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet), which is a hub for research and policy analysis on competitiveness and productivity, and coordinates MICROPROD (EU Horizon 2020).

Our focus is on productivity, innovation, and labour market outcomes such as employment and wages. 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 "Institutions and Social Norms" 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
Send Message +49 345 7753-708 Personal page

Refereed Publications

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European Firm Concentration and Aggregate Productivity

Tommaso Bighelli Filippo di Mauro Marc Melitz Matthias Mertens

in: Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract

This paper derives a European Herfindahl–Hirschman concentration index from 15 micro-aggregated country datasets. In the last decade, European concentration rose due to a reallocation of economic activity toward large and concentrated industries. Over the same period, productivity gains from an increasing allocative efficiency of the European market accounted for 50% of European productivity growth while markups stayed constant. Using country-industry variation, we show that changes in concentration are positively associated with changes in productivity and allocative efficiency. This holds across most sectors and countries and supports the notion that rising concentration in Europe reflects a more efficient market environment rather than weak competition and rising market power.

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Innovation Cooperation in East and West Germany: A Study on the Regional and Technological Impact

Uwe Cantner Alexander Giebler Jutta Günther Maria Kristalova Andreas Meder

in: International Journal of Computational Economics and Econometrics, forthcoming

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the impact of regional and technological innovation systems on innovation cooperation. We develop an indicator applicable to regions, which demonstrates the relative regional impact on innovation cooperation. Applying this method to German patent data, we find that regional differences in the degree of innovation cooperation do not only depend on the technology structure of a region but also on specific regional effects. High-tech oriented regions, whether east or west, are not automatically highly cooperative regions. East German regions have experienced a dynamic development of innovation cooperation since re-unification in 1990. Their cooperation intensity remains higher than in West German regions.

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Exposure to Conflict, Migrations and Long-run Education and Income Inequality: Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Adnan Efendic Dejan Kovač Jacob N. Shapiro

in: Defence and Peace Economics, forthcoming

Abstract

We investigate the long-term relationship between conflict-related migration and individual socioeconomic inequality. Looking at the post-conflict environment of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), a former Yugoslav state most heavily impacted by the wars of the early 1990s, the paper focuses on differences in educational performance and income between four groups: migrants, internally displaced persons, former external migrants, and those who did not move. The analysis leverages a municipality-representative survey (n ≈ 6,000) that captured self-reported education and income outcomes as well as migration histories. We find that individuals with greater exposure to conflict had systematically worse educational performance and lower earnings two decades after the war. Former external migrants now living in BiH have better educational and economic outcomes than those who did not migrate, but these advantages are smaller for external migrants who were forced to move. We recommend that policies intended to address migration-related discrepancies should be targeted on the basis of individual and family experiences caused by conflict.

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Uncovered Workers in Plants Covered by Collective Bargaining: Who Are They and How Do They Fare?

Boris Hirsch Philipp Lentge Claus Schnabel

in: British Journal of Industrial Relations, forthcoming

Abstract

Abstract In Germany, employers used to pay union members and non-members in a plant the same union wage in order to prevent workers from joining unions. Using recent administrative data, we investigate which workers in firms covered by collective bargaining agreements still individually benefit from these union agreements, which workers are not covered anymore and what this means for their wages. We show that about 9 per cent of workers in plants with collective agreements do not enjoy individual coverage (and thus the union wage) anymore. Econometric analyses with unconditional quantile regressions and firm-fixed-effects estimations demonstrate that not being individually covered by a collective agreement has serious wage implications for most workers. Low-wage non-union workers and those at low hierarchy levels particularly suffer since employers abstain from extending union wages to them in order to pay lower wages. This jeopardizes unions' goal of protecting all disadvantaged workers.

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The East-West German Gap in Revenue Productivity: Just a Tale of Output Prices?

Matthias Mertens Steffen Müller

in: Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract

East German manufacturers’ revenue productivity is substantially below West German levels, even three decades after German unification. Using firm-product-level data with product quantities and prices, we analyze the role of product specialization and show that the prominent “extended work bench hypothesis” cannot explain these sustained productivity differences. Eastern firms specialize in simpler product varieties generating less consumer value and being manufactured with less or cheaper inputs. Yet, such specialization cannot explain the productivity gap because Eastern firms are physically less productive for given product prices. Hence, there is a genuine price-adjusted physical productivity disadvantage of Eastern compared to Western firms.

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Working Papers

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Organised Labour, Labour Market Imperfections, and Employer Wage Premia

Sabien Dobbelaere Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 20, 2022

Abstract

This paper examines how collective bargaining through unions and workplace codetermination through works councils shape labour market imperfections and how labour market imperfections matter for employer wage premia. Based on representative German plant data for the years 1999–2016, we document that employer monopsony involving below competitive wages is far more prevalent than the contrary worker monopoly. We further find a smaller prevalence and intensity of employer monopsony when unions or works councils are present and the opposite for worker monopoly. Finally, we document a close link between labour market imperfections and employer wage premia. The presence and intensity of employer monopsony are associated with a lower level and larger dispersion of premia, whereas more intense worker monopoly is accompanied by a higher level only.

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Identifying Rent-sharing Using Firms‘ Energy Input Mix

Matthias Mertens Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 19, 2022

Abstract

We present causal evidence on the rent-sharing elasticity of German manufacturing firms. We develop a new firm-level Bartik instrument for firm rents that combines the firms‘ predetermined energy input mix with national energy carrier price changes. Reduced-form evidence shows that higher energy prices depress wages. Instrumental variable estimation yields a rent-sharing elasticity of approximately 0.20. Rent-sharing induced by energy price variation is asymmetric and driven by energy price increases, implying that workers do not benefit from energy price reductions but are harmed by price increases. The rent-sharing elasticity is substantially larger in small (0.26) than in large (0.17) firms.

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Preferred Field of Study and Academic Performance

Francesco Berlingieri André Diegmann Maresa Sprietsma

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 16, 2022

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of studying the first-choice university subject on dropout and switching field of study for a cohort of students in Germany. Using detailed survey data, and employing an instrumental variable strategy based on variation in the local field of study availability, we provide evidence that students who are not enrolled in their preferred field of study are more likely to change their field, delay graduation and drop out of university. The estimated impact on dropout is particularly strong among students of low socio-economic status and is driven by lower academic performance and motivation.

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Offshoring, Domestic Employment and Production. Evidence from the German International Sourcing Survey

Wolfhard Kaus Markus Zimmermann

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 14, 2022

Abstract

This paper analyses the effect of offshoring (i.e., the relocation of activities previously performed in-house to foreign countries) on various firm outcomes (domestic employment, production, and productivity). It uses data from the International Sourcing Survey (ISS) 2017 for Germany, linked to other firm level data such as business register and ITGS data. First, we find that offshoring is a rare event: In the sample of firms with 50 or more persons employed, only about 3% of manufacturing firms and 1% of business service firms have performed offshoring in the period 2014-2016. Second, difference-in-differences propensity score matching estimates reveal a negative effect of offshoring on domestic employment and production. Most of this negative effect is not because the offshoring firms shrink, but rather because they don’t grow as fast as the non-offshoring firms. We further decompose the underlying employment dynamics by using direct survey evidence on how many jobs the firms destroyed/created due to offshoring. Moreover, we do not find an effect on labour productivity, since the negative effect on domestic employment and production are more or less of the same size. Third, the German data confirm previous findings for Denmark that offshoring is associated with an increase in the share of ‘produced goods imports’, i.e. offshoring firms increase their imports for the same goods they continue to produce domestically. In contrast, it is not the case that offshoring firms increase the share of intermediate goods imports (a commonly used proxy for offshoring), as defined by the BEC Rev. 5 classification.

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Exposure to Conflict, Migrations and Long-run Education and Income Inequality: Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Adnan Efendic Dejan Kovač Jacob N. Shapiro

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 11, 2022

Abstract

We investigate the long-term relationship between conflict-related migration and individual socioeconomic inequality. Looking at the post-conflict environment of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), a former Yugoslav state most heavily impacted by the conflicts of the early 1990s, the paper focuses on differences in educational performance and income between four groups: migrants, internally displaced persons, former external migrants, and those who did not move. The analysis leverages a municipality-representative survey (n≈6,000) that captured self-reported education and income outcomes as well as migration histories. We find that individuals with greater exposure to conflict had systematically worse educational performance and lower earnings two decades after the war. Former external migrants now living in BiH have better educational and economic outcomes than those who did not migrate, but these advantages are smaller for individuals who were forced to move. We recommend that policies intended to address migration-related discrepancies should be targeted on the basis of individual and family experiences caused by conflict.

read publication
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