Structural Change and Productivity
The department of structural change and productivity analyses dynamics of structural change driven, for instance, by decarbonization 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 coordinates the Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet), which is a hub for research and policy analysis on competitiveness and productivity.
Our focus is on productivity, business dynamism, and labour market outcomes such as employment and wages. We devote special attention to the role of market power on product and labour markets. Together with the winner of the Max Planck-Humboldt Research Award of 2019, Professor Ufuk Akcigit (Chicago), the department investigates the causes of the economic differences between East and West Germany. The Research Clusters "Institutions and Social Norms" and "Productivity and Innovation" build the framework for our research agenda and the corresponding policy advice.
Cross-country Evidence on the Allocation of COVID-19 Government Subsidies and Consequences for Productivity
in: Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, forthcoming
We study the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and related policy support on productivity. We employ an extensive micro-distributed exercise to access otherwise unavailable individual data on firm performance and government subsidies. Our cross-country evidence for five EU countries shows that the pandemic led to a significant short-term decline in aggregate productivity and the direct support to firms had only a limited positive effect on productivity developments. A thorough comparative analysis of the distribution of employment and overall direct subsidies, considering separately also relative firm-level size of support and the probability of being supported, reveals ambiguous cross-country results related to the firm-level productivity and points to the decisive role of other firm characteristics.
European Firm Concentration and Aggregate Productivity
in: Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming
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.
Exposure to Conflict, Migrations and Long-run Education and Income Inequality: Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina
in: Defence and Peace Economics, forthcoming
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.
Males Should Mail? Gender Discrimination in Access to Childcare
in: American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings, forthcoming
We construct country-level measures of teacher cognitive skills using unique assessment data for 31 countries. We find substantial differences in teacher cognitive skills across countries that are strongly related to student performance. Results are supported by fixed-effects estimation exploiting within-country between-subject variation in teacher skills. A series of robustness and placebo tests indicate a systematic influence of teacher skills as distinct from overall differences among countries in the level of cognitive skills. Moreover, observed country variations in teacher cognitive skills are significantly related to differences in women’s access to high-skill occupations outside teaching and to salary premiums for teachers.
Industry Mix, Local Labor Markets, and the Incidence of Trade Shocks
in: Journal of Labor Economics, forthcoming
We analyze how skill transferability and the local industry mix affect the adjustment costs of workers hit by a trade shock. Using German administrative data and novel measures of economic distance we construct an index of labor market absorptiveness that captures the degree to which workers from a particular industry are able to reallocate into other jobs. Among manufacturing workers, we find that the earnings loss associated with increased import exposure is much higher for those who live in the least absorptive regions. We conclude that the local industry composition plays an important role in the adjustment processes of workers.
The Characteristics and Geographic Distribution of Robot Hubs in U.S. Manufacturing Establishments
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 7, 2023
We use data from the Annual Survey of Manufactures to study the characteristics and geography of investments in robots across U.S. manufacturing establishments. We find that robotics adoption and robot intensity (the number of robots per employee) is much more strongly related to establishment size than age. We find that establishments that report having robotics have higher capital expenditures, including higher information technology (IT) capital expenditures. Also, establishments are more likely to have robotics if other establishments in the same Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA) and industry also report having robotics. The distribution of robots is highly skewed across establishments’ locations. Some locations, which we call Robot Hubs, have far more robots than one would expect even after accounting for industry and manufacturing employment. We characterize these Robot Hubs along several industry, demographic, and institutional dimensions. The presence of robot integrators and higher levels of union membership are positively correlated with being a Robot Hub.
Employment Effects of Investment Grants and Firm Heterogeneity – Evidence from a Staggered Treatment Adoption Approach
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 6, 2023
This study estimates the establishment-level employment effects of investment grants in Germany. In addition to the average treatment effect on the treated, we analyse the influence of establishment’s characteristics and economic environment on the magnitude of the effect. We apply a modification of Heckman’s matching and difference-in-differences approach to consider time-varying treatment and different treatment durations. Our results suggest that investment grants positively impact employment. Moreover, we find strong evidence for effect heterogeneity regarding firms’ internal characteristics as well as the economic environment.
Robots, Occupations, and Worker Age: A Production-unit Analysis of Employment
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 5, 2023
We analyse the impact of robot adoption on employment composition using novel micro data on robot use in German manufacturing plants linked with social security records and data on job tasks. Our task-based model predicts more favourable employment effects for the least routine-task intensive occupations and for young workers, with the latter being better at adapting to change. An event-study analysis of robot adoption confirms both predictions. We do not find adverse employment effects for any occupational or age group, but churning among low-skilled workers rises sharply. We conclude that the displacement effect of robots is occupation biased but age neutral, whereas the reinstatement effect is age biased and benefits young workers most.
Oxytocin, Empathy, Altruism and Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from Blood Donations
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 4, 2023
We conducted a field experiment in the natural setting of blood donations to test how oxytocin relates to empathy and altruism. We randomly assigned blood donors in the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine to three groups with the aim to induce different levels of empathy by showing a neutral video to the donors from the control group and an emotional to the donors from the first and second treatment groups. In addition to watching the emotional video, donors from the second treatment group are given a gift which relates to the emotional story from the video. We find no effect of our treatment on induced levels of oxytocin. Null effects of our treatments could be explained by the above average baseline levels of oxytocin and inability of our treatments to provoke emotional stimuli in blood donors. Nonetheless, for our empathy measures we find the effect of gift exchange on empathic concerns, but not on perspective taking. After our experimental treatments, we followed the return of our blood donors for a whole year. We find that only variable which consistently predicts return for blood donation in stated period is the number of previous donations. From policy perspective it is an important finding. Especially for hospitals and other blood providers when faced with time and resource constraints.
Climate Change Concerns and Information Spillovers from Socially-connected Friends
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 2, 2023
This paper studies the role of social connections in shaping individuals’ concerns about climate change. I combine granular climate data, region-level social network data and survey responses for 24 European countries in order to document large information spillovers. Individuals become more concerned about climate change when their geographically distant friends living in sociallyconnected regions have experienced large increases in temperatures since 1990. Exploring the heterogeneity of the spillover effects, I uncover that the learning via social networks plays a central role. Further, results illustrate the important role of social values and economic preferences for understanding how information spillovers affect individual concerns.