Professor Benjamin Schoefer, PhD

Professor Benjamin Schoefer, PhD
Current Position

since 5/22

Research Fellow Department of Laws, Regulations and Factor Markets

Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association

since 7/22

Associate Professor

University of California, Berkeley

Research Interests

  • macroeconomics
  • labour economics
  • corporate finance

Benjamin Schoefer joined the institute as a Research Fellow in May 2022. His research focuses on macroeconomics, labour economics, and corporate finance.

Benjamin Schoefer is Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD from Harvard University.

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Professor Benjamin Schoefer, PhD
Professor Benjamin Schoefer, PhD
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Productivity, Place, and Plants

Benjamin Schoefer Oren Ziv

in: Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming


Why do cities differ so much in productivity? A long literature has sought out systematic sources, such as inherent productivity advantages, market access, agglomeration forces, or sorting. We document that up to three quarters of the measured regional productivity dispersion is spurious, reflecting the “luck of the draw” of finite counts of idiosyncratically heterogeneous plants that happen to operate in a given location. The patterns are even more pronounced for new plants, hold for alternative productivity measures, and broadly extend to European countries. This large role for individual plants suggests a smaller role for places in driving regional differences.

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A Congestion Theory of Unemployment Fluctuations

Yusuf Mercan Benjamin Schoefer Petr Sedláček

in: American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, No. 1, 2024


We propose a theory of unemployment fluctuations in which newhires and incumbentworkers are imperfect substitutes. Hence, attempts to hire away the unemployed during recessions diminish the marginal product of new hires, discouraging job creation. This single feature achieves a ten-fold increase in the volatility of hiring in an otherwise standard search model, produces a realistic Beveridge curve despite countercyclical separations, and explains 30–40% of U.S. unemployment fluctuations. Additionally, it explains the excess procyclicality of new hires’ wages, the cyclical labor wedge, countercyclical earnings losses from job displacement, and the limited steady-state effects of unemployment insurance. 

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Marginal Jobs and Job Surplus: A Test of the Efficiency of Separations

Simon Jäger Benjamin Schoefer Josef Zweimüller

in: Review of Economic Studies, No. 3, 2023


We present a test of Coasean theories of efficient separations. We study a cohort of jobs from the introduction through the repeal of a large age- and region-specific unemployment benefit extension in Austria. In the treatment group, 18.5% fewer jobs survive the program period. According to the Coasean view, the destroyed marginal jobs had low joint surplus. Hence, after the repeal, the treatment survivors should be more resilient than the ineligible control group survivors. Strikingly, the two groups instead exhibit identical post-repeal separation behavior. We provide, and find suggestive evidence consistent with, an alternative model in which wage rigidity drives the inefficient separation dynamics.

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Working Papers

The Financial Channel of Wage Rigidity

Benjamin Schoefer

in: Econometrics Laboratory (EML), April 2022


I propose a financial channel of wage rigidity. In recessions, rigid average wages squeeze cash flows, forcing firms to cut hiring due to financial constraints. Indeed, empirical cash flows and profits would turn acyclical if wages were only moderately more procyclical. I study this channel in a search and matching model with financial constraints and wage rigidity among incumbent workers (but flexible new hires’ wages). While neither feature generates amplification individually, their interaction can account for much of the empirical labor market fluctuations—breaking the neutrality of incumbents’ wages for hiring, and showing that financial amplification of business cycles requires wage rigidity.

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