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.

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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Vertical Grants and Local Public Efficiency. The Inference-disturbing Effect of Fiscal Equalization

Ivo Bischoff Peter Bönisch Peter Haug Annette Illy

in: Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract

The existing empirical literature on the impact of vertical grants on local public-sector efficiency yields mixed results. Given the fact that vertical financial equalization systems often reduce differences in fiscal capacity, we argue that empirical studies based on cross-sectional data may yield a positive relationship between grants and efficiency of public service production even when the underlying causal effect is not. We provide a simple illustrative theoretical model to show the logic of our argument and illustrate its relevance by an empirical case study for the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. We show that our main argument of an inference-disturbing effect applies to those existing studies that are more optimistic about the impact of vertical grants. Finally, we argue that it may disturb the inference drawn from studies in a number of other countries where vertical grants—intended or not—concentrate in fiscally weak municipalities.

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Plant-level Employment Development before Collective Displacements: Comparing Mass Layoffs, Plant Closures and Bankruptcies

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract

This article analyzes the development of employment levels and worker flows before bankruptcies, plant closure without bankruptcies and mass layoffs. Utilizing administrative plant-level data for Germany, we find no systematic employment reductions prior to mass layoffs, a strong and long-lasting reduction prior to closures, and a much shorter shadow of death preceding bankruptcies. Employment reductions in closing plants, in contrast to bankruptcies and mass layoffs, do not come along with increased worker flows. These patterns point to an intended and controlled shrinking strategy for closures without bankruptcy and to an unintended collapse for bankruptcies and mass layoffs.

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Size of Training Firms and Cumulated Long-Run Unemployment Exposure – The Role of Firms, Luck, and Ability in Young Workers’ Careers

Steffen Müller Renate Neubäumer

in: International Journal of Manpower, forthcoming

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Why Is there Resistance to Works Councils In Germany? An Economic Perspective

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Economic and Industrial Democracy, forthcoming

Abstract

Recent empirical research generally finds evidence of positive economic effects for works councils, for example with regard to productivity and – with some limitations – to profits. This makes it necessary to explain why employers’ associations have reservations about works councils. On the basis of an in-depth literature analysis, this article shows that beyond the generally positive findings, there are important heterogeneities in the impact of works councils. The authors argue that those groups of employers that tend to benefit little from employee participation in terms of productivity and profits may well be important enough to shape the agenda of their employers’ organization and have even gained in importance within their organizations in recent years. The authors also discuss the role of deviations from profit-maximizing behavior like risk aversion, short-term profit-maximization and other non-pecuniary motives, as possible reasons for employer resistance.

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Financial Literacy and Self-employment

Aida Ćumurović Walter Hyll

in: The Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract

In this paper, we study the relationship between financial literacy and self‐employment. We use established financial literacy questions to measure literacy levels. The analysis shows a highly significant and positive correlation between the index and self‐employment. We address the direction of causality by applying instrumental variable techniques based on information about maternal education. We also exploit information on financial support and family background to account for concerns about the exclusion restriction. The results provide support for a positive effect of financial literacy on the probability of being self‐employed. As financial literacy is acquirable, the findings suggest that entrepreneurial activities might be increased by enhancing financial literacy.

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Working Papers

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Labour Market Power and the Distorting Effects of International Trade

Matthias Mertens

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 18, 2018

Abstract

This article examines how trade shocks shape labour market imperfections that create market power in labour markets and prevent an efficient allocation of labour. I develop a framework for measuring such labour market distortions in monetary terms and document large degrees of those distortions in Germany’s manufacturing sector. Import competition can only exert labour market disciplining effects when firms rather than workers have labour market power. Otherwise, export demand and import competition shocks tend to fortify existing distortions by amplifying labour market power structures. This diminishes the gains from trade compared to a model with perfectly competitive labour markets.

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Crowdsourced Innovation: How Community Managers Affect Crowd Activities

Sabrina Jeworrek Lars Hornuf

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 13, 2018

Abstract

In this study, we investigate whether and to what extent community managers in online collaborative communities can stimulate crowd activities through their engagement. Using a novel data set of 22 large online idea crowdsourcing campaigns, we find that active engagement of community managers positively affects crowd activities in an inverted U-shaped manner. Moreover, we evidence that intellectual stimulation by managers increases community participation, while individual consideration of users has no impact on user activities. Finally, the data reveal that community manager activities that require more effort, such as media file uploads instead of simple written comments, have a larger effect on crowd participation.

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

Matthias Brachert

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2018

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

Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 2, 2018

Abstract

This paper investigates the influence of industrial relations on firm wage premia in Germany. OLS regressions for the firm effects from a two-way fixed effects decomposition of workers’ wages by Card, Heining, and Kline (2013) document that average premia are larger in firms bound by collective agreements and in firms with a works council, holding constant firm performance. RIF regressions show that premia are less dispersed among covered firms but more dispersed among firms with a works council. Hence, deunionisation is the only among the suspects investigated that contributes to explaining the marked rise in the premia dispersion over time.

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“The Good News about Bad News”: Feedback about Past Organisational Failure and its Impact on Worker Productivity

Sabrina Jeworrek Vanessa Mertins Michael Vlassopoulos

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2018

Abstract

Failure in organisations is a very common phenomenon. Little is known about whether past failure affects workers’ subsequent performance. We conduct a field experiment in which we follow up a failed mail campaign to attract new volunteers with a phone campaign pursuing the same goal. We recruit temporary workers to carry out the phone campaign and randomly assign them to either receive or not receive information about the previous failure and measure their performance. We find that informed workers perform better – in terms of both numbers dialed (about 14% improvement) and completed interviews (about 20% improvement) – regardless of whether they had previously worked on the failed mail campaign. Evidence from a second experiment with student volunteers asked to support a campaign to reduce food waste suggests that the mechanism behind our finding relates to contextual inference: Informing workers/volunteers that they are pursuing a goal that is hard to attain seems to add meaning to the work involved, leading them to exert more effort.

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