Laws, Regulations and Factor Markets

The department “Laws, Regulations and Factor Markets” combines the analysis of labour and capital markets into a joint research framework. It studies how labour and capital markets interact in the provision of labour and capital for firm creation, growth and innovation. In addition, it examines how laws and regulations in the labour and capital markets affect labour and capital reallocation.

The department’s research provides unique perspectives and insights into
•    the importance of high skilled labour in promoting growth and innovation,
•    the importance of financing constraints and regulation in accessing high skilled labour markets, and
•    the impact of current and actively debated laws and regulations such as antitrust laws and gender diversity initiatives on the productivity of labour and capital.

Current Research Projects

PhD Students

Recent Publications

Please scroll down to learn about LRF's people and recent publications.

Your contact

Professor Merih Sevilir, PhD
Professor Merih Sevilir, PhD
- Department Laws, Regulations and Factor Markets
Send Message +49 345 7753-808

Refereed Publications


Worker Beliefs about Outside Options

Simon Jäger Christopher Roth Nina Roussille Benjamin Schoefer

in: Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming


Standard labor market models assume that workers hold accurate beliefs about the external wage distribution, and hence their outside options with other employers. We test this assumption by comparing German workers’ beliefs about outside options with objective benchmarks. First, we find that workers wrongly anchor their beliefs about outside options on their current wage: workers that would experience a 10% wage change if switching to their outside option only expect a 1% change. Second, workers in low-paying firms underestimate wages elsewhere. Third, in response to information about the wages of similar workers, respondents correct their beliefs about their outside options and change their job search and wage negotiation intentions. Finally, we analyze the consequences of anchoring in a simple equilibrium model. In the model, anchored beliefs keep overly pessimistic workers stuck in low-wage jobs, which gives rise to monopsony power and labor market segmentation.

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Reservation Raises: The Aggregate Labour Supply Curve at the Extensive Margin

Preston Mui Benjamin Schoefer

in: Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming


We measure desired labour supply at the extensive (employment) margin in two representative surveys of the U.S. and German populations. We elicit reservation raises: the percent wage change that renders a given individual indifferent between employment and nonemployment. It is equal to her reservation wage divided by her actual, or potential, wage. The reservation raise distribution is the nonparametric aggregate labour supply curve. Locally, the curve exhibits large short-run elasticities above 3, consistent with business cycle evidence. For larger upward shifts, arc elasticities shrink towards 0.5, consistent with quasi-experimental evidence from tax holidays. Existing models fail to match this nonconstant, asymmetric curve.

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Productivity, Place, and Plants

Benjamin Schoefer Oren Ziv

in: Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming


Why do cities differ so much in productivity? A long literature has sought out systematic sources, such as inherent productivity advantages, market access, agglomeration forces, or sorting. We document that up to three quarters of the measured regional productivity dispersion is spurious, reflecting the “luck of the draw” of finite counts of idiosyncratically heterogeneous plants that happen to operate in a given location. The patterns are even more pronounced for new plants, hold for alternative productivity measures, and broadly extend to European countries. This large role for individual plants suggests a smaller role for places in driving regional differences.

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Supranational Rules, National Discretion: Increasing versus Inflating Regulatory Bank Capital?

Reint E. Gropp Thomas Mosk Steven Ongena Ines Simac Carlo Wix

in: Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, No. 2, 2024


We study how banks use “regulatory adjustments” to inflate their regulatory capital ratios and whether this depends on forbearance on the part of national authorities. Using the 2011 EBA capital exercise as a quasi-natural experiment, we find that banks substantially inflated their levels of regulatory capital via a reduction in regulatory adjustments — without a commensurate increase in book equity and without a reduction in bank risk. We document substantial heterogeneity in regulatory capital inflation across countries, suggesting that national authorities forbear their domestic banks to meet supranational requirements, with a focus on short-term economic considerations.

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A Congestion Theory of Unemployment Fluctuations

Yusuf Mercan Benjamin Schoefer Petr Sedláček

in: American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, No. 1, 2024


We propose a theory of unemployment fluctuations in which newhires and incumbentworkers are imperfect substitutes. Hence, attempts to hire away the unemployed during recessions diminish the marginal product of new hires, discouraging job creation. This single feature achieves a ten-fold increase in the volatility of hiring in an otherwise standard search model, produces a realistic Beveridge curve despite countercyclical separations, and explains 30–40% of U.S. unemployment fluctuations. Additionally, it explains the excess procyclicality of new hires’ wages, the cyclical labor wedge, countercyclical earnings losses from job displacement, and the limited steady-state effects of unemployment insurance. 

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Working Papers


Inflation Concerns and Green Product Consumption: Evidence from a Nationwide Survey and a Framed Field Experiment

Sabrina Jeworrek Lena Tonzer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2024


Promoting green product consumption is one important element in building a sustainable society. Yet green products are usually more costly. In times of high inflation, not only budget constraints but also the fear that prices will continue to rise might dampen green product consumption and, hence, limit the effectiveness of exerted efforts to promote sustainable behaviors. To test this suggestion, we conducted a Germany-wide survey with almost 1,200 respondents, followed by a framed field experiment (N=500) to confirm causality. In the survey, respondents’ stated “green” purchasing behavior is, as to be expected, positively correlated with concerns about climate change. It is also negatively correlated with concerns about future inflation and energy costs, but after controlling for observable characteristics such as income and educational level only the correlation with concerns about future prices remains significant. This result is driven by individuals with below-median environmental attitude. In the framed field experiment, we use the priming method to manipulate the saliency of inflation concerns. Whereas sizably relaxing the budget constraint (i.e., by 50 percent) has no impact on the share of organic products in participants’ baskets, the priming significantly decreases the share of organic products for individuals with below-median environmental attitude, similar to the survey data.

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R&D Tax Credits and the Acquisition of Startups

William McShane Merih Sevilir

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 15, 2023


We propose a novel mechanism through which established firms contribute to the startup ecosystem: the allocation of R&D tax credits to startups via the M&A channel. We show that when established firms become eligible for R&D tax credits, they increase their R&D and M&A activity. In particular, they acquire more venture capital (VC)-backed startups, but not non-VC-backed firms. Moreover, the impact of R&D tax credits on firms’ R&D is increasing with their acquisition of VC-backed startups. The results suggest that established firms respond to R&D tax credits by acquiring startups rather than solely focusing on increasing their R&D intensity in-house. We also highlight evidence that startups do not appear to benefit from R&D tax credits directly, perhaps because they typically lack the taxable income necessary to directly benefit from the tax credits. In this context, established firms can play an intermediary role by acquiring startups and reallocating R&D tax credits, effectively relaxing the financial constraints faced by startups.

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Going Public and the Internal Organization of the Firm

Daniel Bias Benjamin Lochner Stefan Obernberger Merih Sevilir

in: SSRN Working Paper, May 2022


We examine how firms adapt their organization when they go public. To conform with the requirements of public capital markets, we expect IPO firms to become more organized, making the firm more accountable and its human capital more easily replaceable. We find that IPO firms transform into a more hierarchical organization with smaller departments. Managerial oversight increases. Organizational functions dedicated to accounting, finance, information and communication, and human resources become much more prominent. Employee turnover is sizeable and directly related to changes in hierarchical layers. New hires are better educated, but younger and less experienced than incumbents, which reflects the staffing needs of a more hierarchical organization. Wage inequality increases as firms become more hierarchical. Overall, going public is associated with a comprehensive transformation of the firm's organization which becomes geared towards efficiently operating a public firm.

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Banking Deregulation and Consumption of Home Durables

H. Evren Damar Ian Lange Caitlin McKennie Mirko Moro

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 4, 2022


We exploit the spatial and temporal variation of the staggered introduction of interstate banking deregulation across the U.S. to study the relationship between credit constraints and consumption of durables. Using the American Housing Survey from 1981 to 1989, we link the timing of these reforms with evidence of a credit expansion and household responses on many margins. We find evidence that low-income households are more likely to purchase new appliances after the deregulation. These durable goods allowed households to consume less natural gas and spend less time in domestic activities after the reforms.

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The Adverse Effect of Contingent Convertible Bonds on Bank Stability

Melina Ludolph

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2022


This paper examines the effect of CoCo bonds that qualify as additional tier 1 capital on bank fundamentals. The results reveal a significant reduction in the distance to insolvency following the hybrid bond issuance due to increased earnings volatility. Further analyses suggest a link between CoCo issuance and more active earnings management, evidenced by a higher standard deviation of loan loss provisions and impairment charges. The findings substantiate long-standing theoretical hypotheses suggesting that the regulatory design requirements for going-concern CoCos adversely affect bank stability. Furthermore, they correspond to the notion that private monitoring is largely absent as a corrective measure due to prevailing uncertainties and information frictions.

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