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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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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Birds, Birds, Birds: Co-worker Similarity, Workplace Diversity and Job Switches

Boris Hirsch Elke J. Jahn Thomas Zwick

in: British Journal of Industrial Relations, forthcoming

Abstract

We investigate how the demographic composition of the workforce along the sex, nationality, education, age and tenure dimensions affects job switches. Fitting duration models for workers’ job‐to‐job turnover rate that control for workplace fixed effects in a representative sample of large manufacturing plants in Germany during 1975–2016, we find that larger co‐worker similarity in all five dimensions substantially depresses job‐to‐job moves, whereas workplace diversity is of limited importance. In line with conventional wisdom, which has that birds of a feather flock together, our interpretation of the results is that workers prefer having co‐workers of their kind and place less value on diverse workplaces.

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Working Papers

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Robot Adoption at German Plants

Liuchun Deng Verena Plümpe Jens Stegmaier

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 19, 2020

Abstract

Using a newly collected dataset with plant-level information of robot use from 2014 to 2018, we provide the first microscopic portrait of robotisation in Germany and study the potential determinants of robot adoption. Our descriptive analysis uncovers five stylised facts concerning both extensive and, perhaps more importantly, intensive margin of plant-level robot use: (1) Robot use is relatively rare with only 1.55% German plants using robots in 2018. (2) The robot distribution is highly skewed. (3) New robot adopters contribute substantially to the recent robotisation. (4) Robot users are exceptional along several dimensions of plant-level characteristics. (5) Heterogeneity in robot types matters. Our regression results further suggest that plant size, low-skilled labour intensity, and exporter status all have strong and positive effect on future probability of robot adoption. However, controlling for plant size, we find that plant-level productivity has no, if not negative, impact on robot adoption.

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The East-West German Gap in Revenue Productivity: Just a Tale of Output Prices?

Matthias Mertens Steffen Müller

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 14, 2020

Abstract

East German manufacturers’ revenue productivity (value-added per worker) is some 8 (25) percent below West German levels, even three decades after German unification. Using firm-product-level data containing information on product quantities and prices, we analyse the role of product specialisation and reject the prominent ‚extended work bench hypothesis‘, stating a specialisation of Eastern firms in the intermediate input production as explanation for these sustained productivity differences. We decompose the East’s revenue productivity disadvantage into Eastern firms selling at lower prices and producing more physical output for given amounts of inputs within ten-digit product industries. This suggests that Eastern firms specialise vertically in simpler product varieties generating less consumer value but being manufactured with less or cheaper inputs. Vertical specialisation, however, does not explain the productivity gap as Eastern firms are physically less productive for given product prices, implying a genuine physical productivity disadvantage of Eastern compared to Western firms.

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Labour Market Power and Between-Firm Wage (In)Equality

Matthias Mertens

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 13, 2020

Abstract

This study investigates how labour market power shapes between-firm wage differences using German manufacturing sector data from 1995 to 2016. Over time, firm- and employee-side labour market power, defined as the difference between wages and marginal revenue products of labour (MRPL), increasingly moderated rising between-firm wage inequality. This is because small, low-wage, low-MRPL firms possess no labour market power and pay wages equal to or even above their MRPL, whereas large, high-wage, high-MRPL firms possess high labour market power and pay wages below their MRPL. These wage-MRPL differences grow over time and compress the firm wage distribution compared to the counterfactual competitive labour market scenario. Particularly for the largest, highest-paying, and highest-MRPL firms, wage-MRPL differences strongly increase over time. This allows these firms to generate increasingly large labour market rents while being active on competitive product markets, providing novel insights on why such “superstar firms” are profitable and successful.

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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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