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

Refereed Publications

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Immigration and Entrepreneurship in the United States

Pierre Azoulay Benjamin Jones J. Daniel Kim Javier Miranda

in: American Economic Review: Insights, forthcoming

Abstract

Immigration can expand labor supply and create greater competition for native-born workers. But immigrants may also start new firms, expanding labor demand. This paper uses U.S. administrative data and other data resources to study the role of immigrants in entrepreneurship. We ask how often immigrants start companies, how many jobs these firms create, and how these firms compare with those founded by U.S.-born individuals. A simple model provides a measurement framework for addressing the dual roles of immigrants as founders and workers. The findings suggest that immigrants act more as "job creators" than "job takers" and that non-U.S. born founders play outsized roles in U.S. high-growth entrepreneurship

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Explaining Wage Losses After Job Displacement: Employer Size and Lost Firm Wage Premiums

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract

This paper investigates whether wage losses after job displacement are driven by lost firm wage premiums or worker productivity depreciations. We estimate losses in wages and firm wage premiums, the latter being measured as firm effects from a two-way fixed-effects wage decomposition. Using new German administrative data on displacements from small and large employers, we find that wage losses are to a large extent explained by losses in firm wage premiums and that premium losses are largely permanent. We show that losses strongly increase with pre-displacement employer size. This provides an explanation for large and persistent wage losses reported in previous displacement studies typically focusing on large employers, only.

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Explaining Wage Losses after Job Displacement: Employer Size and Lost Firm Rents

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract

Why does job displacement, e.g., following import competition, technological change, or economic downturns, result in permanent wage losses? The job displacement literature is silent on whether wage losses after job displacement are driven by lost firm wage premiums or worker productivity depreciations. We therefore estimate losses in wages and firm wage premiums. Premiums are measured as firm effects from a two-way fixed-effects approach, as described in Abowd, Kramarz, and Margolis (1999). Using German administrative data, we find that wage losses are, on average, fully explained by losses in firm wage premiums and that premium losses are largely permanent. We show that losses in wages and premiums are minor for workers displaced from small plants and strongly increase with pre-displacement firm size, which provides an explanation for the large and persistent wage losses that have been found in previous studies mostly focusing on displacement from large employers.

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Mission, Motivation, and the Active Decision to Work for a Social Cause

Sabrina Jeworrek Vanessa Mertins

in: Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract

The mission of a job affects the type of worker attracted to an organization but may also provide incentives to an existing workforce. We conducted a natural field experiment with 246 short-term workers. We randomly allocated some of these workers to either a prosocial or a commercial job. Our data suggest that the mission of a job has a performance-enhancing motivational impact on particular individuals only, those with a prosocial attitude. However, the mission is very important if it has been actively selected. Those workers who have chosen to contribute to a social cause outperform the ones randomly assigned to the same job by about half a standard deviation. This effect seems to be a universal phenomenon that is not driven by information about the alternative job, the choice itself, or a particular subgroup.

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Worker Participation in Decision-making, Worker Sorting, and Firm Performance

Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: Industrial Relations, forthcoming

Abstract

Worker participation in decision-making is often associated with high-wage and high-productivity firm strategies. Using linked employer–employee data for Germany and worker fixed effects from a two-way fixed-effects model of wages capturing observed and unobserved worker quality, we find that plants with formal worker participation via works councils indeed employ higher quality workers. We show that worker quality is already higher in plants before council introduction and further increases after the introduction. Importantly, we corroborate previous studies by showing positive productivity and profitability effects even after taking into account worker sorting.

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Working Papers

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The Impact of Delay: Evidence from Formal Out-of-Court Restructuring

Randall K. Filer Dejan Kovač Jacob N. Shapiro Stjepan Srhoj

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2021

Abstract

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.

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Alone at Home: The Impact of Social Distancing on Norm-consistent Behavior

Sabrina Jeworrek Joschka Waibel

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 8, 2021

Abstract

Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned daily live upside down since social distancing is probably the most effective means of containing the virus until herd immunity is reached. Social norms have been shown to be an important determinant of social distancing behaviors. By conducting two experiments and using the priming method to manipulate social isolation recollections, we study whether social distancing has in turn affected norms of prosociality and norm compliance. The normative expectations of what behaviors others would approve or disapprove in our experimental setting did not change. Looking at actual behavior, however, we find that persistent social distancing indeed caused a decline in prosociality – even after the relaxation of social distancing rules and in times of optimism. At the same time, our results contain some good news since subjects seem still to care for norms and become more prosocial once again after we draw their attention to the empirical norm of how others have previously behaved in a similar situation.

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European Firm Concentration and Aggregate Productivity

Tommaso Bighelli Filippo di Mauro Marc Melitz Matthias Mertens

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 5, 2021

Abstract

This article 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 towards large and concentrated industries. Over the same period, productivity gains from reallocation accounted for 50% of European productivity growth and 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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Organised Labour, Labour Market Imperfections, and Employer Wage Premia

Sabien Dobbelaer Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper, No. 20, 2020

Abstract

This paper examines how collective bargaining through unions and workplace co-determination through works councils shape labour market imperfections and how labourmarket imperfections matter for employer wage premia. Based on representative Germanplant data for the years 1999{2016, we document that labour market imperfections arethe norm rather than the exception. Wage mark-downs, that is wages below the marginalrevenue product of labour rooted in employers' monopsony power, are the most prevalentoutcome. We further nd that both types of organised labour are accompanied by asmaller prevalence and intensity of wage mark-downs whereas the opposite holds for wagemark-ups, that is wages above the marginal revenue product of labour rooted in workers'monopoly power. Finally, we document a close link between our production-based labourmarket imperfection measures and employer wage premia. The prevalence and intensityof wage mark-downs are associated with a smaller level and larger dispersion of premiawhereas wage mark-ups are only accompanied by a higher premium level.

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Organised Labour, Labour Market Imperfections, and Employer Wage Premia

Sabien Dobbelaer Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: IZA Discussion Paper, No. 13909, 2020

Abstract

This paper examines how collective bargaining through unions and workplace co-determination through works councils shape labour market imperfections and how labourmarket imperfections matter for employer wage premia. Based on representative Germanplant data for the years 1999{2016, we document that labour market imperfections arethe norm rather than the exception. Wage mark-downs, that is wages below the marginalrevenue product of labour rooted in employers' monopsony power, are the most prevalentoutcome. We further nd that both types of organised labour are accompanied by asmaller prevalence and intensity of wage mark-downs whereas the opposite holds for wagemark-ups, that is wages above the marginal revenue product of labour rooted in workers'monopoly power. Finally, we document a close link between our production-based labourmarket imperfection measures and employer wage premia. The prevalence and intensityof wage mark-downs are associated with a smaller level and larger dispersion of premiawhereas wage mark-ups are only accompanied by a higher premium level.

read publication
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