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.
Innovation Cooperation in East and West Germany: A Study on the Regional and Technological Impact
in: International Journal of Computational Economics and Econometrics, forthcoming
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.
The Urban Wage Premium in Imperfect Labour Markets
in: Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming
Using administrative data for West Germany, this paper investigates whether part of the urban wage premium stems from greater competition in denser labor markets. We show that employers possess less wage-setting power in denser markets. We further document that an important part of the observed urban wage premia can be explained by greater competition in denser labor markets.
Uncovered Workers in Plants Covered by Collective Bargaining: Who Are They and How Do They Fare?
in: British Journal of Industrial Relations, forthcoming
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.
The East-West German Gap in Revenue Productivity: Just a Tale of Output Prices?
in: European Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming
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.
Urban Occupational Structures as Information Networks: The Effect on Network Density of Increasing Number of Occupations
in: Plos One, forthcoming
Urban economies are composed of diverse activities, embodied in labor occupations, which depend on one another to produce goods and services. Yet little is known about how the nature and intensity of these interdependences change as cities increase in population size and economic complexity. Understanding the relationship between occupational interdependencies and the number of occupations defining an urban economy is relevant because interdependence within a networked system has implications for system resilience and for how easily can the structure of the network be modified. Here, we represent the interdependencies among occupations in a city as a non-spatial information network, where the strengths of interdependence between pairs of occupations determine the strengths of the links in the network. Using those quantified link strengths we calculate a single metric of interdependence–or connectedness–which is equivalent to the density of a city’s weighted occupational network. We then examine urban systems in six industrialized countries, analyzing how the density of urban occupational networks changes with network size, measured as the number of unique occupations present in an urban workforce. We find that in all six countries, density, or economic interdependence, increases superlinearly with the number of distinct occupations. Because connections among occupations represent flows of information, we provide evidence that connectivity scales superlinearly with network size in information networks.
Preferred Field of Study and Academic Performance
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 16, 2022
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.
Offshoring, Domestic Employment and Production. Evidence from the German International Sourcing Survey
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 14, 2022
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.
Exposure to Conflict, Migrations and Long-run Education and Income Inequality: Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 11, 2022
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.
The (Heterogenous) Economic Effects of Private Equity Buyouts
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2022
The effects of private equity buyouts on employment, productivity, and job reallocation vary tremendously with macroeconomic and credit conditions, across private equity groups, and by type of buyout. We reach this conclusion by examining the most extensive database of U.S. buyouts ever compiled, encompassing thousands of buyout targets from 1980 to 2013 and millions of control firms. Employment shrinks 13% over two years after buyouts of publicly listed firms – on average, and relative to control firms – but expands 13% after buyouts of privately held firms. Post-buyout productivity gains at target firms are large on average and much larger yet for deals executed amidst tight credit conditions. A post-buyout tightening of credit conditions or slowing of GDP growth curtails employment growth and intra-firm job reallocation at target firms. We also show that buyout effects differ across the private equity groups that sponsor buyouts, and these differences persist over time at the group level. Rapid upscaling in deal flow at the group level brings lower employment growth at target firms.
The Impact of Delay: Evidence from Formal Out-of-Court Restructuring
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2021
Bankruptcy restructuring procedures are used in most legal systems to decide the fate of businesses facing financial hardship. We study how bargaining failures in such procedures impact the economic performance of participating firms in the context of Croatia, which introduced a „pre-bankruptcy settlement“ (PBS) process in the wake of the Great Recession of 2007 - 2009. Local institutions left over from the communist era provide annual financial statements for both sides of more than 180,000 debtor-creditor pairs, enabling us to address selection into failed negotiations by matching a rich set of creditor and debtor characteristics. Failures to settle at the PBS stage due to idiosyncratic bargaining problems, which effectively delays entry into the standard bankruptcy procedure, leads to a lower rate of survival among debtors as well as reduced employment, revenue, and profits. We also track how bargaining failures diffuse through the network of creditors, finding a significant negative effect on small creditors, but not others. Our results highlight the impact of delay and the importance of structuring bankruptcy procedures to rapidly resolve uncertainty about firms‘ future prospects.