IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers

The IWH-CompNet Discussion Paper series presents research based on productivity data provided by the Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet). The international network has the objective to develop a consistent analytical framework for assessing productivity and competitiveness. The papers are released in order to make the research of CompNet generally available, in preliminary form, to encourage comments and suggestions prior to final publication.

Current Issues


Trade Shocks, Labour Markets and Elections in the First Globalisation

Richard Bräuer Wolf-Fabian Hungerland Felix Kersting

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 4, 2021


This paper studies the economic and political effects of a large trade shock in agriculture – the grain invasion from the Americas – in Prussia during the first globalisation (1871-1913). We show that this shock accelerated the structural change in the Prussian economy through migration of workers to booming cities. In contrast to studies using today’s data, we do not observe declining per capita income and political polarisation in counties affected by foreign competition. Our results suggest that the negative and persistent effects of trade shocks we see today are not a universal feature of globalisation, but depend on labour mobility. For our analysis, we digitise data from Prussian industrial and agricultural censuses on the county level and combine it with national trade data at the product level. We exploit the cross-regional variation in cultivated crops within Prussia and instrument with Italian trade data to isolate exogenous variation.

read publication


Globalisation in Europe: Consequences for the Business Environment and Future Patterns in Light of Covid-19

Sergio Inferrera

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 2, 2021


In this paper, I study the consequences of globalisation, as measured by the involvement of firms in GVC, on the business environment. In particular, I focus on concentration and productivity, firstly by estimating robust elasticities and then isolating the exogenous component of the variation in the participation in GVC. To this aim, I exploit the distance between industries in terms of upstreamness and downstreamness along the supply chain. The evidences suggest that involvement in international supply chains is positively related to concentration at the sector level and positively associated with aggregate productivity, an effect that is driven by the firms at the top of the productivity distribution. Finally, I relate these findings to the current pandemic, going beyond the lack of official statistics and estimating GVC participation for 2020 at the country-level through real time world-seaborne trade data, providing evidences on the re-absorption of the Covid shock in several European economies.

read publication


Benchmarking New Zealand's Frontier Firms

Guanyu Zheng Hoang Minh Duy Gail Pacheco

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2021


New Zealand has experienced poor productivity performance over the last two decades. Factors often cited as reasons behind this are the small size of the domestic market and distance to international partners and markets. While the distance reason is one that is fairly insurmountable, there are a number of other small advanced economies that also face similar domestic market constraints. This study compares the relative performance of New Zealand’s firms to those economies using novel cross-country microdata from CompNet. We present stylised facts for New Zealand relative to the economies of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands and Sweden based on average productivity levels, as well as benchmarking laggard, median and frontier firms. This research also employs an analytical framework of technology diffusion to evaluate the extent of productivity convergence, and the impact of the productivity frontier on non-frontier firm performance. Additionally, both labour and capital resource allocation are compared between New Zealand and the other small advanced economies. Results show that New Zealand’s firms have comparatively low productivity levels and that its frontier firms are not benefiting from the diffusion of best technologies outside the nation. Furthermore, there is evidence of labour misallocation in New Zealand based on less labour-productive firms having disproportionally larger employment shares than their more productive counterparts. Counter-factual analysis illustrates that improving both technology diffusion from abroad toward New Zealand’s frontier firms, and labour allocation across firms within New Zealand will see sizable productivity gains in New Zealand.

read publication


The Viral Effects of Foreign Trade and Supply Networks in the Euro Area

Virginia di Nino Bruno Veltri

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 4, 2020


Containment measures of COVID-19 have generated a chain of supply and demand shocks around the globe with heterogeneous fallout across industries and countries. We quantify their transmission via foreign trade with a focus on the euro area where deep firms integration within regional supply chains and strong demand linkages act as a magnification mechanism. We estimate that spillover effects in the euro area from suppression measures in one of the five main euro area countries range between 15-28% the size of the original shock; negative foreign demand shocks depress euro area aggregate activity by about a fifth the size of the external shock and a fourth of the total effect is due to indirect propagation through euro area supply chain. Last, reopening to regional tourism softened the contraction of aggregate activity due to travel and tourism bans by about a third in the euro area. Our findings suggest that enhanced coordination of recovery plans would magnify their beneficial effects.

read publication


Decentralisation of Collective Bargaining: A Path to Productivity?

Daniele Aglio Filippo di Mauro

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 3, 2020


Productivity developments have been rather divergent across EU countries and particularly between Central Eastern Europe (CEE) and elsewhere in the continent (non-CEE). How is such phenomenon related to wage bargaining institutions? Starting from the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) shock, we analyse whether the specific set-up of wage bargaining prevailing in non-CEE may have helped their respective firms to sustain productivity in the aftermath of the crisis. To tackle the issue, we merge the CompNet dataset – of firm-level based productivity indicators – with the Wage Dynamics Network (WDN) survey on wage bargaining institutions. We show that there is a substantial difference in the institutional set-up between the two above groups of countries. First, in CEE countries the bulk of the wage bargaining (some 60%) takes place outside collective bargaining schemes. Second, when a collective bargaining system is adopted in CEE countries, it is prevalently in the form of firm-level bargaining (i. e. the strongest form of decentralisation), while in non-CEE countries is mostly subject to multi-level bargaining (i. e. an intermediate regime, only moderately decentralised). On productivity impacts, we show that firms’ TFP in the non-CEE region appears to have benefitted from the chosen form of decentralisation, while no such effects are detectable in CEE countries. On the channels of transmission, we show that decentralisation in non-CEE countries is also negatively correlated with dismissals and with unit labour costs, suggesting that such collective bargaining structure may have helped to better match workers with firms’ needs.

read publication
Mitglied der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft LogoTotal-Equality-LogoWeltoffen Logo