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.

Your contact

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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Ten Facts on Declining Business Dynamism and Lessons from Endogenous Growth Theory

Ufuk Akcigit Sina T. Ates

in: American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract

In this paper, we review the literature on declining business dynamism and its implications in the United States and propose a unifying theory to analyze the symptoms and the potential causes of this decline. We first highlight 10 pronounced stylized facts related to declining business dynamism documented in the literature and discuss some of the existing attempts to explain them. We then describe a theoretical framework of endogenous markups, innovation, and competition that can potentially speak to all of these facts jointly. We next explore some theoretical predictions of this framework, which are shaped by two interacting forces: a composition effect that determines the market concentration and an incentive effect that determines how firms respond to a given concentration in the economy. The results highlight that a decline in knowledge diffusion between frontier and laggard firms could be a significant driver of empirical trends observed in the data. This study emphasizes the potential of growth theory for the analysis of factors behind declining business dynamism and the need for further investigation in this direction.

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The Regional Effects of Professional Sports Franchises – Causal Evidence from Four European Football Leagues

Matthias Brachert

in: Regional Studies, forthcoming

Abstract

We use the locational pattern of clubs in four major professional football leagues in Europe to test the causal effect of changes in premier league membership on regional employment and output growth at the NUTS 3 level. We rely on the relegation mode of the classical round-robin tournament in the European model of sport to develop a regression-discontinuity design. The results indicate small and significant negative short-term effects on regional employment and output in the sports-related economic sector when clubs are relegated from the premier division of the respective football league. In addition, we find small negative effects on overall regional employment growth. However, total regional gross value added remains unaffected, indicating that in the main it is the less productive jobs that disappear in the short-term.

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Does Low-pay Persist across Different Regimes? Evidence from the German Unification

André Diegmann Nicole Gürtzgen

in: The Economics of Transition, forthcoming

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Measuring the Indirect Effects of Adverse Employer Behavior on Worker Productivity – A Field Experiment

Matthias Heinz Sabrina Jeworrek Vanessa Mertins Heiner Schumacher Matthias Sutter

in: The Economic Journal, forthcoming

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Firm Wage Premia, Industrial Relations, and Rent Sharing in Germany

Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller

in: ILR Review, forthcoming

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Working Papers

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

Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 11, 2020

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 establishments 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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flexpaneldid: A Stata Toolbox for Causal Analysis with Varying Treatment Time and Duration

Eva Dettmann Alexander Giebler Antje Weyh

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 3, 2020

Abstract

The paper presents a modification of the matching and difference-in-differences approach of Heckman et al. (1998) for the staggered treatment adoption design and a Stata tool that implements the approach. This flexible conditional difference-in-differences approach is particularly useful for causal analysis of treatments with varying start dates and varying treatment durations. Introducing more flexibility enables the user to consider individual treatment periods for the treated observations and thus circumventing problems arising in canonical difference-in-differences approaches. The open-source flexpaneldid toolbox for Stata implements the developed approach and allows comprehensive robustness checks and quality tests. The core of the paper gives comprehensive examples to explain the use of the commands and its options on the basis of a publicly accessible data set.

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Does Working at a Start-Up Pay Off?

Daniel Fackler Lisa Hölscher Claus Schnabel Antje Weyh

in: IZA Institute of Labor Economics - Discussion Paper Series, No. 13033, 2020

Abstract

Using representative linked employer-employee data for Germany, this paper analyzes short- and long-run differences in labor market performance of workers joining startups instead of incumbent firms. Applying entropy balancing and following individuals over ten years, we find huge and long-lasting drawbacks from entering a start-up in terms of wages, yearly income, and (un)employment. These disadvantages hold for all groups of workers and types of start-ups analyzed. Although our analysis of different subsequent career paths highlights important heterogeneities, it does not reveal any strategy through which workers joining start-ups can catch up with the income of similar workers entering incumbent firms.

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Intangible Capital and Productivity. Firm-level Evidence from German Manufacturing

Wolfhard Kaus Viktor Slavtchev Markus Zimmermann

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2020

Abstract

We study the importance of intangible capital (R&D, software, patents) for the measurement of productivity using firm-level panel data from German manufacturing. We first document a number of facts on the evolution of intangible investment over time, and its distribution across firms. Aggregate intangible investment increased over time. However, the distribution of intangible investment, even more so than that of physical investment, is heavily right-skewed, with many firms investing nothing or little, and a few firms having very large intensities. Intangible investment is also lumpy. Firms that invest more intensively in intangibles (per capita or as sales share) also tend to be more productive. In a second step, we estimate production functions with and without intangible capital using recent control function approaches to account for the simultaneity of input choice and unobserved productivity shocks. We find a positive output elasticity for research and development (R&D) and, to a lesser extent, software and patent investment. Moreover, the production function estimates show substantial heterogeneity in the output elasticities across industries and firms. While intangible capital has small effects for firms with low intangible intensity, there are strong positive effects for high-intensity firms. Finally, including intangibles in a gross output production function reduces productivity dispersion (measured by the 90-10 decile range) on average by 3%, in some industries as much as nearly 9%.

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Import Competition and Firm Productivity: Evidence from German Manufacturing

Richard Bräuer Matthias Mertens Viktor Slavtchev

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 20, 2019

Abstract

This study analyses empirically the effects of import competition on firm productivity (TFPQ) using administrative firm-level panel data from German manufacturing. We find that only import competition from high-income countries is associated with positive incentives for firms to invest in productivity improvement, whereas import competition from middle- and low-income countries is not. To rationalise these findings, we further look at the characteristics of imports from the two types of countries and the effects on R&D, employment and sales. We provide evidence that imports from high-income countries are relatively capital-intensive and technologically more sophisticated goods, at which German firms tend to be relatively good. Costly investment in productivity appears feasible reaction to such type of competition and we find no evidence for downscaling. Imports from middle- and low-wage countries are relatively labour-intensive and technologically less sophisticated goods, at which German firms tend to generally be at disadvantage. In this case, there are no incentives to invest in innovation and productivity and firms tend to decline in sales and employment.

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