IWH Bankruptcy Research

The Bankruptcy Research Unit of the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) presents the Institute’s research on the topics of corporate bankruptcy, firm exit, and the consequences for affected employees. It issues the IWH Bankruptcy Update on a monthly basis. The Update presents the most recent bankruptcy numbers much earlier than official statistics.

IWH Bankruptcy Update

Recent Developments

According to the IWH Bankruptcy Update, the number of bankruptcies in Germany once again fell slightly in July, with 895 companies declaring bankruptcy last month, or 3% less than in June 2020 and 11% less than in July 2019. However, as in the previous month, the number of impacted workers rose significantly because of more large companies going bankrupt. Read more ...

Press Release

06.08.2020 • 15/2020

IWH Bankruptcy Update: Number of Employees Affected by Bankruptcy Continues to Rise in Germany

Professor Dr Steffen Müller
Abstract

In July, more than three times as many jobs were impacted by corporate bankruptcies in Germany in comparison to the monthly averages from early 2020. The July figure was also significantly higher in relation to the previous month. By contrast, the number of bankruptcies fell slightly. These are the main findings of the most recent IWH Bankruptcy Update published by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH), which provides monthly reports on German bankruptcies.

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Regional Distribution

Methodology

The IWH Bankruptcy Research Unit collects the bankruptcy announcements of German courts to generate the monthly IWH Bankruptcy Update. Excluding very small firms being not listed in the business register, the Update focusses on a group of legal forms of companies typically covering about 90 percent of all employees affected by employer bankruptcy. Official statistics draw a comprehensive picture of the situation with a two months delay. The Update is considerably faster and only marginally deviates from official numbers. The IWH Bankrupcty Update therefore is a reliable flash indicator for corporate bankruptcy in Germany.

While official statistics report bankruptcies based on the date of the court decision about opening a bankruptcy trial, the IWH Bankruptcy Update uses the date of the courts’ public announcement of this decision. Hence, deviations from the official statistics also depend on the reporting behaviour of courts.

For some of our analyses we link the bankruptcy announcements of the courts with firm-level data provided by Bureau van Dijk (BvD), the latter comprising balance sheet and employment information. The BvD data is highly reliable for large firms whereas many small firms are not included. For this reason, our analyses using BvD data focus on large companies, only. Here we take account of the fact that consolidated balance sheets of parent companies may include subsidiaries that are not bankrupt. Employment reductions mostly occur within the last year before bankruptcy. Our balance sheet and employment information do not refer directly to the time of the bankruptcy announcement but mostly to the previous year and thereby provide a more realistic picture of the economic effects of bankruptcies.

Team

Head of the IWH Bankruptcy Unit

Deputy Head of the IWH Bankruptcy Unit

Affiliated Experts

Eva Weigt

Acceleration Managerin, Silicon Castles, Salzburg, and IWH Junior Research Affiliate; research focus: effects of job displacement on affected employees.

IWH Website          Website Silicon Castles

Dr Jens Stegmaier

Researcher, Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg, and IWH Research Affiliate; research focus: evolution and failure of firms, consequences for affected employees, industrial relations, non-standard employment.

IWH Website          IAB Website

Professor Dr Stephan Madaus

Chair of Civil Law, Civil Procedure and Insolvency Law at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg; research focus: insolvency and restructuring law, comparative analysis of relevant regulatory approaches in jurisdictions worldwide as well as in the soft law of international organizations.

MLU Website

German Research Foundation Project

04.2016 ‐ 03.2019

Wage and Employment Effects of Bankruptcies

German Research Foundation (DFG)

The project analyzes the process and the consequences of firm failure. For the first time, evidence on the consequences of small firms’ bankruptcy on employees’ earnings and wages is provided. The project e.g. shows that employees of small firms are more likely to see their employer failing but, at the same time, face smaller earnings and wage losses than employees displaced from larger firms. Check the below research articles for further insights.

Overview of project results (in German)     Project website

Dr Daniel Fackler
Professor Dr Steffen Müller
Dr Jens Stegmaier

Core Research Findings

Workers displaced in the course of employer bankruptcy face severe long-run earnings and wage losses. These losses are generally bigger for larger employers.
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Explaining Wage Losses after Job Displacement: Employer Size and Lost Firm Rents

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 32, 2017

Abstract

Why does job displacement, e.g., following import competition, technological change, or economic downturns, result in permanent wage losses? The job displacement literature is silent on whether wage losses after job displacement are driven by lost firm wage premiums or worker productivity depreciations. We therefore estimate losses in wages and firm wage premiums. Premiums are measured as firm effects from a two-way fixed-effects approach, as described in Abowd, Kramarz, and Margolis (1999). Using German administrative data, we find that wage losses are, on average, fully explained by losses in firm wage premiums and that premium losses are largely permanent. We show that losses in wages and premiums are minor for workers displaced from small plants and strongly increase with pre-displacement firm size, which provides an explanation for the large and persistent wage losses that have been found in previous studies mostly focusing on displacement from large employers.

read publication
Testing their business concepts, young firms much more often file for bankruptcy than mature firms. Small firms are also more often affected by bankruptcy but the number of employees predicts failure among mature firms, only.
cover_small-business-economics.jpg

Economic Failure and the Role of Plant Age and Size

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Small Business Economics, No. 3, 2015

Abstract

This paper introduces a large-scale administrative panel data set on corporate bankruptcy in Germany that allows for an econometric analysis of involuntary exits where previous studies mixed voluntary and involuntary exits. Approximately 83 % of all bankruptcies occur in plants with not more than 10 employees, and 61 % of all bankrupt plants are not older than 5 years. The descriptive statistics and regression analysis indicate substantial negative age dependence with respect to bankruptcy risk but confirm negative size dependence for mature plants only. Our results corroborate hypotheses stressing increasing capabilities and positional advantage, both predicting negative age dependence with respect to bankruptcy risk due to productivity improvements. The results are not consistent with the theories explaining age dependence via imprinting or structural inertia.

read publication
Firm closure without bankruptcy is visible in below average employment performance already several years before closure. In contrast, bankruptcy comes with a shorter warning period. Results indicate that many closures without bankruptcy are planned while bankruptcy is often preceded by a short struggle for survival.
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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, No. 50, 2018

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.

read publication
The duration of the shutdown is decisive for the bankruptcy risk. Under three months of shutdown almost all firms in shutdown industries face risk of bankruptcy.
cover_io_03_20.jpg

Corona Shutdown and Bankruptcy Risk

Oliver Holtemöller Yaz Gulnur Muradoglu

in: IWH Online, No. 3, 2020

Abstract

This paper investigates the consequences of shutdowns during the Corona crisis on the risk of bankruptcy for firms in Germany and United Kingdom. We use financial statements from the period 2014 to 2018 to predict how pervasive risk of bankruptcy becomes for micro, small, medium, and large firms due to shutdown measures. We estimate distress for firms using their capacity to service their debt. Our results indicate that under three months of shutdown almost all firms in shutdown industries face high risk of bankruptcy. In Germany, about 99% of firms in shutdown industries and in the UK about 98% of firms in shutdown industries are predicted to be under distress. The furlough schemes reduce the risk of bankruptcy only marginally to 97% of firms in shutdown industries in Germany and 95% of firms in shutdown industries in the United Kingdom in case of a three-month shutdown. In sectors that are not shutdown under conservative estimates of contagion of sales losses, our results indicate considerable risk of widespread bankruptcies ranging from 76% of firms in Germany to 69% of firms in the United Kingdom. These early findings suggest that the impact of corona crisis on corporate sector via shutdowns can be severe and subsequent policy should be designed accordingly.

read publication

 

Publications

Policy Papers

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Unternehmensinsolvenzen: Welche Folgen haben sie für Arbeitnehmer?

Daniel Fackler

in: Wirtschaftsdienst, forthcoming

Abstract

Unternehmensinsolvenzen sind nicht nur für Eigentümer und Gläubiger mit erheblichen Unannehmlichkeiten verbunden, sie haben zumeist auch schwerwiegende Auswirkungen auf die Arbeitnehmer, die dadurch in aller Regel ihre Arbeitsplätze verlieren. Insbesondere Insolvenzen großer Unternehmen mit mehreren Tausend Beschäftigten – prominente Fälle sind beispielsweise Schlecker, Praktiker oder Air Berlin – führen gelegentlich dazu, dass die Schicksale der betroffenen Arbeitnehmer auch in den Fokus einer breiteren Öffentlichkeit geraten. Das Interesse von Politik und Medien lässt jedoch meist schnell wieder nach, obwohl Unternehmensinsolvenzen natürlich weitaus häufiger vorkommen. Zwar ist die Zahl der Unternehmensinsolvenzen seit einigen Jahren rückläufig, dennoch waren 2018 deutschlandweit fast 20 000 Unternehmen und 200 000 Arbeitsplätze betroffen.

read publication

cover_io_03_20.jpg

Corona Shutdown and Bankruptcy Risk

Oliver Holtemöller Yaz Gulnur Muradoglu

in: IWH Online, No. 3, 2020

Abstract

This paper investigates the consequences of shutdowns during the Corona crisis on the risk of bankruptcy for firms in Germany and United Kingdom. We use financial statements from the period 2014 to 2018 to predict how pervasive risk of bankruptcy becomes for micro, small, medium, and large firms due to shutdown measures. We estimate distress for firms using their capacity to service their debt. Our results indicate that under three months of shutdown almost all firms in shutdown industries face high risk of bankruptcy. In Germany, about 99% of firms in shutdown industries and in the UK about 98% of firms in shutdown industries are predicted to be under distress. The furlough schemes reduce the risk of bankruptcy only marginally to 97% of firms in shutdown industries in Germany and 95% of firms in shutdown industries in the United Kingdom in case of a three-month shutdown. In sectors that are not shutdown under conservative estimates of contagion of sales losses, our results indicate considerable risk of widespread bankruptcies ranging from 76% of firms in Germany to 69% of firms in the United Kingdom. These early findings suggest that the impact of corona crisis on corporate sector via shutdowns can be severe and subsequent policy should be designed accordingly.

read publication

cover_Wiwa_4_2018.jpg

Folgen von Arbeitsplatzverlusten: Vor allem aus Großbetrieben entlassene Arbeitnehmer müssen deutliche Lohneinbußen hinnehmen

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Wirtschaft im Wandel, No. 4, 2018

Abstract

Schließungen und Massenentlassungen großer Unternehmen stoßen aufgrund der damit verbundenen Folgen für betroffene Arbeitnehmerinnen und Arbeitnehmer meist auf breites öffentliches Interesse. Tatsächlich zeigt sich, dass die Verdienstausfälle betroffener Arbeitnehmer – bestehend aus Lohneinbußen bei späterer Wiederbeschäftigung und Beschäftigungsausfällen – deutlich mit der Größe des entlassenden Betriebs zunehmen. Dies liegt vor allem daran, dass aus Großbetrieben entlassene Arbeitnehmer im Gegensatz zu denen, die einen Arbeitsplatz in kleinen Betrieben verlieren, deutliche Lohneinbußen hinnehmen müssen, weil sie danach oft in kleineren und schlechter bezahlenden Betrieben beschäftigt sind. Zwar erleiden auch aus Kleinbetrieben entlassene Arbeitnehmer deutliche Verdienstausfälle, ihre Lohneinbußen sind aber geringer. Sie können sich bei der Entlohnung sogar verbessern, sofern sie das Glück haben, eine Anstellung in einem Großbetrieb zu finden.

read publication

cover_iab-kurzbericht_2018-05.jpg

Insolvenzen in Deutschland: Deutliche Spuren in den Biografien der Beschäftigten

Manfred Antoni Daniel Fackler Eva Hank Jens Stegmaier

in: IAB-Kurzbericht 05/2018, Nürnberg, 2018

Abstract

Large, well-known firms that file for bankruptcy typically receive a lot of public attention. However, most bankrupt firms are rather small and we still know little about the effects of bankruptcies on workers. This report analyses the effects of bankruptcies on earnings and employment prospects of affected workers.

read publication

cover_wirtschaft-im-wandel_2016-6.jpg

Einkommensverluste nach Arbeitsplatzverlusten: Kompensation vor allem durch staatliche Umverteilung

Daniel Fackler Eva Hank

in: Wirtschaft im Wandel, No. 6, 2016

Abstract

Zahlreiche Studien zeigen, dass unfreiwillige Arbeitsplatzverluste zu hohen und langfristigen Einkommensverlusten bei betroffenen Arbeitnehmern führen. Die vorliegende Studie verwendet Befragungsdaten des Sozio-oekonomischen Panels (SOEP), um erstmals umfassend zu untersuchen, ob und in welchem Ausmaß Verluste im individuellen Arbeitseinkommen durch alternative Einkommensquellen, Reaktionen anderer Haushaltsmitglieder und durch staatliche Umverteilung ausgeglichen werden. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass Verdienstverluste vor allem durch staatliche Umverteilung kompensiert werden, wohingegen andere Kanäle nur eine untergeordnete Rolle spielen. Ein Vergleich internationaler empirischer Evidenz zu den Verdienstausfällen nach Arbeitsplatzverlusten spricht nicht dafür, dass staatliche Umverteilung den Anreiz, Verluste durch eigene Anstrengungen selbst auszugleichen, vermindert.

read publication

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Was wissen wir über Betriebsschließungen? Erkenntnisse für West- und Ostdeutschland

Daniel Fackler Claus Schnabel

in: Wirtschaftsdienst, No. 2, 2015

Abstract

This paper reports the results of several investigations into the determinants of company shutdowns using administrative data for Germany. We show that between 1975 and 2008, the average shutdown rate has risen considerably in western Germany. For most of the time, shutdown rates in eastern Germany were higher, but they have converged to the western level recently. The shutdown risk falls with company size and is substantially higher for young companies. Shutdown rates initially decline as companies age, reaching a minimum at ages 15 to 18, and then rise again. Companies begin to shrink several years before closure, and the remaining workforce becomes on average more skilled, more female and older in companies about to close compared to surviving ones.

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Scholarly Articles

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Who Buffers Income Losses after Job Displacement? The Role of Alternative Income Sources, the Family, and the State

Daniel Fackler Eva Weigt

in: LABOUR, forthcoming

Abstract

Using survey data from the German Socio‐Economic Panel (SOEP), this paper analyses the extent to which alternative income sources, reactions within the household context, and redistribution by the state attenuate earnings losses after job displacement. Applying propensity score matching and fixed effects estimations, we find that income from self‐employment reduces the earnings gap only slightly and severance payments buffer losses in the short run. On the household level, we find little evidence for an added worker effect whereas redistribution by the state within the tax and transfer system mitigates income losses substantially.

read publication

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Does Extended Unemployment Benefit Duration Ameliorate the Negative Employment Effects of Job Loss?

Daniel Fackler Jens Stegmaier Eva Weigt

in: Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract

We study the effect of job displacement due to bankruptcies on earnings and employment prospects of displaced workers and analyse whether extended potential unemployment benefit duration (PBD) ameliorates the negative consequences of job loss. Using German administrative linked employer-employee data, we find that job loss has long-lasting negative effects on earnings and employment. Displaced workers also more often end up in irregular employment relationships (part-time, marginal part-time employment, and temporary agency work) than their non-displaced counterparts. Applying a regression discontinuity approach that exploits a three months PBD extension at the age threshold of 50 we find hardly any effects of longer PBD on labour market outcomes of displaced workers.

read publication

cover_applied-economics.jpg

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

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Applied Economics, No. 50, 2018

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.

read publication

cover_DP_2017-32.jpg

Explaining Wage Losses after Job Displacement: Employer Size and Lost Firm Rents

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 32, 2017

Abstract

Why does job displacement, e.g., following import competition, technological change, or economic downturns, result in permanent wage losses? The job displacement literature is silent on whether wage losses after job displacement are driven by lost firm wage premiums or worker productivity depreciations. We therefore estimate losses in wages and firm wage premiums. Premiums are measured as firm effects from a two-way fixed-effects approach, as described in Abowd, Kramarz, and Margolis (1999). Using German administrative data, we find that wage losses are, on average, fully explained by losses in firm wage premiums and that premium losses are largely permanent. We show that losses in wages and premiums are minor for workers displaced from small plants and strongly increase with pre-displacement firm size, which provides an explanation for the large and persistent wage losses that have been found in previous studies mostly focusing on displacement from large employers.

read publication

cover_labour-review-of-labour-economics-and-industrial-relations.png

Losing Work, Moving Away? Regional Mobility After Job Loss

Daniel Fackler Lisa Hölscher

in: LABOUR: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, No. 4, 2017

Abstract

Using German survey data, we investigate the relationship between involuntary job loss and regional mobility. Our results show that job loss has a strong positive effect on the propensity to relocate. We also analyse whether displaced workers who relocate to a different region after job loss are better able to catch up with non-displaced workers in terms of labour market performance than those staying in the same region. Our findings do not support this conjecture as we find substantial long-lasting earnings losses for movers and stayers and even slightly but not significantly higher losses for movers.

read publication

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Transferability of Skills across Sectors and Heterogeneous Displacement Costs

Moises Yi Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, No. 5, 2017

Abstract

We use rich German administrative data to estimate new measures of skill transferability between manufacturing and other sectors. These measures capture the value of workers' human capital when applied in different sectors and are directly related to workers' displacement costs. We estimate these transferability measures using a selection correction model, which addresses workers' endogenous mobility, and a novel selection instrument based on the social network of workers. Our results indicate substantial heterogeneity in how workers can transfer their skills when they move across sectors, which implies heterogeneous displacement costs that depend on the sector to which workers reallocate.

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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: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 27, 2016

Abstract

To assess to what extent collective job displacements can be regarded as unanticipated exogenous shocks for affected employees, we analyze plant-level employment patterns before bankruptcy, plant closure without bankruptcy, and mass layoff. Utilizing administrative data covering all West German private sector plants, 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 bankruptcy. Our analysis of worker flows underlines that bankruptcies seem to struggle for survival while closures follow a shrinking strategy. We conclude that the scope of worker anticipation of upcoming job loss is smallest for mass layoffs and largest for closures without bankruptcy.

read publication

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Spinoffs in Germany: Characteristics, Survival, and the Role of their Parents

Daniel Fackler Claus Schnabel A. Schmucker

in: Small Business Economics, No. 1, 2016

Abstract

Using a 50 % sample of all private sector establishments in Germany, we report that spinoffs are larger, initially employ more skilled and more experienced workers, and pay higher wages than other startups. We investigate whether spinoffs are more likely to survive than other startups, and whether spinoff survival depends on the quality and size of their parent companies, as suggested in some of the theoretical and empirical literature. Our estimated survival models confirm that spinoffs are generally less likely to exit than other startups. We also distinguish between pulled spinoffs, where the parent company continues after they are founded, and pushed spinoffs, where the parent company stops operations. Our results indicate that in western and eastern Germany and in all sectors investigated, pulled spinoffs have a higher probability of survival than pushed spinoffs. Concerning the parent connection, we find that intra-industry spinoffs and spinoffs emerging from better-performing or smaller parent companies are generally less likely to exit.

read publication

cover_small-business-economics.jpg

Economic Failure and the Role of Plant Age and Size

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Small Business Economics, No. 3, 2015

Abstract

This paper introduces a large-scale administrative panel data set on corporate bankruptcy in Germany that allows for an econometric analysis of involuntary exits where previous studies mixed voluntary and involuntary exits. Approximately 83 % of all bankruptcies occur in plants with not more than 10 employees, and 61 % of all bankrupt plants are not older than 5 years. The descriptive statistics and regression analysis indicate substantial negative age dependence with respect to bankruptcy risk but confirm negative size dependence for mature plants only. Our results corroborate hypotheses stressing increasing capabilities and positional advantage, both predicting negative age dependence with respect to bankruptcy risk due to productivity improvements. The results are not consistent with the theories explaining age dependence via imprinting or structural inertia.

read publication

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Lingering Illness or Sudden Death? Pre-exit Employment Developments in German Establishments

Daniel Fackler Claus Schnabel J. Wagner

in: Industrial and Corporate Change, No. 4, 2014

Abstract

Using a large administrative data set for Germany, this article compares employment developments in exiting and surviving establishments. Applying a matching approach, we find a clear “shadow of death” effect reflecting lingering illness: in both West and East Germany establishments shrink dramatically already several years before closure, employment growth rates differ strongly between exiting and surviving establishments, and this difference becomes stronger as exit approaches. Moreover, we provide first evidence that prior to exit the workforce becomes on average more skilled, more female, and older in exiting compared to surviving establishments. These effects are more clearly visible in West than in East Germany.

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Establishment Survival in East and West Germany: A Comparative Analysis

Daniel Fackler

in: Schmollers Jahrbuch, No. 2, 2014

Abstract

Using a large administrative dataset, this paper compares the development of new establishments’ survival chances in East and West Germany for the period 1994 – 2008. A central question is whether convergence with respect to survival rates between East and West Germany can be observed. Using methods of survival analysis, I find that new establishments’ survival chances do not differ strongly between East and West Germany at the beginning of the observation period. In 1998 and 1999 the exit hazard increases strongly in East but not in West Germany, which is likely to be due to a change in the subsidy policy affecting East Germany. Since the turn of the millennium, the difference in establishments’ exit hazard between East and West Germany becomes smaller, indicating that there is convergence with respect to establishments’ survival chances.

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Establishment Exits in Germany: The Role of Size and Age

Daniel Fackler Claus Schnabel J. Wagner

in: Small Business Economics, No. 3, 2013

Abstract

Using comprehensive data for West Germany, this paper investigates the determinants of establishment exit. We find that between 1975 and 2006 the average exit rate has risen considerably. In order to test various “liabilities” of establishment survival identified in the literature, we analyzed the impact of establishment size and put a special focus on differences between young and mature establishments. Our empirical analysis shows that the mortality risk falls with establishment size, which confirms the liability of smallness. The probability of exit is substantially higher for young establishments which are not more than 5 years old, thus confirming the liability of newness. There also exists a liability of aging since exit rates first decline over time, reaching a minimum at ages 15–18, and then rise again somewhat. The determinants of exit differ substantially between young and mature establishments, suggesting that young establishments are more vulnerable in a number of ways.

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Publications

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Unternehmensinsolvenzen: Welche Folgen haben sie für Arbeitnehmer?

Daniel Fackler

in: Wirtschaftsdienst, forthcoming

Abstract

Unternehmensinsolvenzen sind nicht nur für Eigentümer und Gläubiger mit erheblichen Unannehmlichkeiten verbunden, sie haben zumeist auch schwerwiegende Auswirkungen auf die Arbeitnehmer, die dadurch in aller Regel ihre Arbeitsplätze verlieren. Insbesondere Insolvenzen großer Unternehmen mit mehreren Tausend Beschäftigten – prominente Fälle sind beispielsweise Schlecker, Praktiker oder Air Berlin – führen gelegentlich dazu, dass die Schicksale der betroffenen Arbeitnehmer auch in den Fokus einer breiteren Öffentlichkeit geraten. Das Interesse von Politik und Medien lässt jedoch meist schnell wieder nach, obwohl Unternehmensinsolvenzen natürlich weitaus häufiger vorkommen. Zwar ist die Zahl der Unternehmensinsolvenzen seit einigen Jahren rückläufig, dennoch waren 2018 deutschlandweit fast 20 000 Unternehmen und 200 000 Arbeitsplätze betroffen.

read publication

cover_io_03_20.jpg

Corona Shutdown and Bankruptcy Risk

Oliver Holtemöller Yaz Gulnur Muradoglu

in: IWH Online, No. 3, 2020

Abstract

This paper investigates the consequences of shutdowns during the Corona crisis on the risk of bankruptcy for firms in Germany and United Kingdom. We use financial statements from the period 2014 to 2018 to predict how pervasive risk of bankruptcy becomes for micro, small, medium, and large firms due to shutdown measures. We estimate distress for firms using their capacity to service their debt. Our results indicate that under three months of shutdown almost all firms in shutdown industries face high risk of bankruptcy. In Germany, about 99% of firms in shutdown industries and in the UK about 98% of firms in shutdown industries are predicted to be under distress. The furlough schemes reduce the risk of bankruptcy only marginally to 97% of firms in shutdown industries in Germany and 95% of firms in shutdown industries in the United Kingdom in case of a three-month shutdown. In sectors that are not shutdown under conservative estimates of contagion of sales losses, our results indicate considerable risk of widespread bankruptcies ranging from 76% of firms in Germany to 69% of firms in the United Kingdom. These early findings suggest that the impact of corona crisis on corporate sector via shutdowns can be severe and subsequent policy should be designed accordingly.

read publication

cover_Wiwa_4_2018.jpg

Folgen von Arbeitsplatzverlusten: Vor allem aus Großbetrieben entlassene Arbeitnehmer müssen deutliche Lohneinbußen hinnehmen

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Wirtschaft im Wandel, No. 4, 2018

Abstract

Schließungen und Massenentlassungen großer Unternehmen stoßen aufgrund der damit verbundenen Folgen für betroffene Arbeitnehmerinnen und Arbeitnehmer meist auf breites öffentliches Interesse. Tatsächlich zeigt sich, dass die Verdienstausfälle betroffener Arbeitnehmer – bestehend aus Lohneinbußen bei späterer Wiederbeschäftigung und Beschäftigungsausfällen – deutlich mit der Größe des entlassenden Betriebs zunehmen. Dies liegt vor allem daran, dass aus Großbetrieben entlassene Arbeitnehmer im Gegensatz zu denen, die einen Arbeitsplatz in kleinen Betrieben verlieren, deutliche Lohneinbußen hinnehmen müssen, weil sie danach oft in kleineren und schlechter bezahlenden Betrieben beschäftigt sind. Zwar erleiden auch aus Kleinbetrieben entlassene Arbeitnehmer deutliche Verdienstausfälle, ihre Lohneinbußen sind aber geringer. Sie können sich bei der Entlohnung sogar verbessern, sofern sie das Glück haben, eine Anstellung in einem Großbetrieb zu finden.

read publication

cover_iab-kurzbericht_2018-05.jpg

Insolvenzen in Deutschland: Deutliche Spuren in den Biografien der Beschäftigten

Manfred Antoni Daniel Fackler Eva Hank Jens Stegmaier

in: IAB-Kurzbericht 05/2018, Nürnberg, 2018

Abstract

Large, well-known firms that file for bankruptcy typically receive a lot of public attention. However, most bankrupt firms are rather small and we still know little about the effects of bankruptcies on workers. This report analyses the effects of bankruptcies on earnings and employment prospects of affected workers.

read publication

cover_wirtschaft-im-wandel_2016-6.jpg

Einkommensverluste nach Arbeitsplatzverlusten: Kompensation vor allem durch staatliche Umverteilung

Daniel Fackler Eva Hank

in: Wirtschaft im Wandel, No. 6, 2016

Abstract

Zahlreiche Studien zeigen, dass unfreiwillige Arbeitsplatzverluste zu hohen und langfristigen Einkommensverlusten bei betroffenen Arbeitnehmern führen. Die vorliegende Studie verwendet Befragungsdaten des Sozio-oekonomischen Panels (SOEP), um erstmals umfassend zu untersuchen, ob und in welchem Ausmaß Verluste im individuellen Arbeitseinkommen durch alternative Einkommensquellen, Reaktionen anderer Haushaltsmitglieder und durch staatliche Umverteilung ausgeglichen werden. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass Verdienstverluste vor allem durch staatliche Umverteilung kompensiert werden, wohingegen andere Kanäle nur eine untergeordnete Rolle spielen. Ein Vergleich internationaler empirischer Evidenz zu den Verdienstausfällen nach Arbeitsplatzverlusten spricht nicht dafür, dass staatliche Umverteilung den Anreiz, Verluste durch eigene Anstrengungen selbst auszugleichen, vermindert.

read publication

cover-wirtschaftsdienst.png

Was wissen wir über Betriebsschließungen? Erkenntnisse für West- und Ostdeutschland

Daniel Fackler Claus Schnabel

in: Wirtschaftsdienst, No. 2, 2015

Abstract

This paper reports the results of several investigations into the determinants of company shutdowns using administrative data for Germany. We show that between 1975 and 2008, the average shutdown rate has risen considerably in western Germany. For most of the time, shutdown rates in eastern Germany were higher, but they have converged to the western level recently. The shutdown risk falls with company size and is substantially higher for young companies. Shutdown rates initially decline as companies age, reaching a minimum at ages 15 to 18, and then rise again. Companies begin to shrink several years before closure, and the remaining workforce becomes on average more skilled, more female and older in companies about to close compared to surviving ones.

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Who Buffers Income Losses after Job Displacement? The Role of Alternative Income Sources, the Family, and the State

Daniel Fackler Eva Weigt

in: LABOUR, forthcoming

Abstract

Using survey data from the German Socio‐Economic Panel (SOEP), this paper analyses the extent to which alternative income sources, reactions within the household context, and redistribution by the state attenuate earnings losses after job displacement. Applying propensity score matching and fixed effects estimations, we find that income from self‐employment reduces the earnings gap only slightly and severance payments buffer losses in the short run. On the household level, we find little evidence for an added worker effect whereas redistribution by the state within the tax and transfer system mitigates income losses substantially.

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Does Extended Unemployment Benefit Duration Ameliorate the Negative Employment Effects of Job Loss?

Daniel Fackler Jens Stegmaier Eva Weigt

in: Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract

We study the effect of job displacement due to bankruptcies on earnings and employment prospects of displaced workers and analyse whether extended potential unemployment benefit duration (PBD) ameliorates the negative consequences of job loss. Using German administrative linked employer-employee data, we find that job loss has long-lasting negative effects on earnings and employment. Displaced workers also more often end up in irregular employment relationships (part-time, marginal part-time employment, and temporary agency work) than their non-displaced counterparts. Applying a regression discontinuity approach that exploits a three months PBD extension at the age threshold of 50 we find hardly any effects of longer PBD on labour market outcomes of displaced workers.

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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, No. 50, 2018

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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Explaining Wage Losses after Job Displacement: Employer Size and Lost Firm Rents

Daniel Fackler Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 32, 2017

Abstract

Why does job displacement, e.g., following import competition, technological change, or economic downturns, result in permanent wage losses? The job displacement literature is silent on whether wage losses after job displacement are driven by lost firm wage premiums or worker productivity depreciations. We therefore estimate losses in wages and firm wage premiums. Premiums are measured as firm effects from a two-way fixed-effects approach, as described in Abowd, Kramarz, and Margolis (1999). Using German administrative data, we find that wage losses are, on average, fully explained by losses in firm wage premiums and that premium losses are largely permanent. We show that losses in wages and premiums are minor for workers displaced from small plants and strongly increase with pre-displacement firm size, which provides an explanation for the large and persistent wage losses that have been found in previous studies mostly focusing on displacement from large employers.

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Losing Work, Moving Away? Regional Mobility After Job Loss

Daniel Fackler Lisa Hölscher

in: LABOUR: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, No. 4, 2017

Abstract

Using German survey data, we investigate the relationship between involuntary job loss and regional mobility. Our results show that job loss has a strong positive effect on the propensity to relocate. We also analyse whether displaced workers who relocate to a different region after job loss are better able to catch up with non-displaced workers in terms of labour market performance than those staying in the same region. Our findings do not support this conjecture as we find substantial long-lasting earnings losses for movers and stayers and even slightly but not significantly higher losses for movers.

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Transferability of Skills across Sectors and Heterogeneous Displacement Costs

Moises Yi Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, No. 5, 2017

Abstract

We use rich German administrative data to estimate new measures of skill transferability between manufacturing and other sectors. These measures capture the value of workers' human capital when applied in different sectors and are directly related to workers' displacement costs. We estimate these transferability measures using a selection correction model, which addresses workers' endogenous mobility, and a novel selection instrument based on the social network of workers. Our results indicate substantial heterogeneity in how workers can transfer their skills when they move across sectors, which implies heterogeneous displacement costs that depend on the sector to which workers reallocate.

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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: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 27, 2016

Abstract

To assess to what extent collective job displacements can be regarded as unanticipated exogenous shocks for affected employees, we analyze plant-level employment patterns before bankruptcy, plant closure without bankruptcy, and mass layoff. Utilizing administrative data covering all West German private sector plants, 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 bankruptcy. Our analysis of worker flows underlines that bankruptcies seem to struggle for survival while closures follow a shrinking strategy. We conclude that the scope of worker anticipation of upcoming job loss is smallest for mass layoffs and largest for closures without bankruptcy.

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Spinoffs in Germany: Characteristics, Survival, and the Role of their Parents

Daniel Fackler Claus Schnabel A. Schmucker

in: Small Business Economics, No. 1, 2016

Abstract

Using a 50 % sample of all private sector establishments in Germany, we report that spinoffs are larger, initially employ more skilled and more experienced workers, and pay higher wages than other startups. We investigate whether spinoffs are more likely to survive than other startups, and whether spinoff survival depends on the quality and size of their parent companies, as suggested in some of the theoretical and empirical literature. Our estimated survival models confirm that spinoffs are generally less likely to exit than other startups. We also distinguish between pulled spinoffs, where the parent company continues after they are founded, and pushed spinoffs, where the parent company stops operations. Our results indicate that in western and eastern Germany and in all sectors investigated, pulled spinoffs have a higher probability of survival than pushed spinoffs. Concerning the parent connection, we find that intra-industry spinoffs and spinoffs emerging from better-performing or smaller parent companies are generally less likely to exit.

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Economic Failure and the Role of Plant Age and Size

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Small Business Economics, No. 3, 2015

Abstract

This paper introduces a large-scale administrative panel data set on corporate bankruptcy in Germany that allows for an econometric analysis of involuntary exits where previous studies mixed voluntary and involuntary exits. Approximately 83 % of all bankruptcies occur in plants with not more than 10 employees, and 61 % of all bankrupt plants are not older than 5 years. The descriptive statistics and regression analysis indicate substantial negative age dependence with respect to bankruptcy risk but confirm negative size dependence for mature plants only. Our results corroborate hypotheses stressing increasing capabilities and positional advantage, both predicting negative age dependence with respect to bankruptcy risk due to productivity improvements. The results are not consistent with the theories explaining age dependence via imprinting or structural inertia.

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Lingering Illness or Sudden Death? Pre-exit Employment Developments in German Establishments

Daniel Fackler Claus Schnabel J. Wagner

in: Industrial and Corporate Change, No. 4, 2014

Abstract

Using a large administrative data set for Germany, this article compares employment developments in exiting and surviving establishments. Applying a matching approach, we find a clear “shadow of death” effect reflecting lingering illness: in both West and East Germany establishments shrink dramatically already several years before closure, employment growth rates differ strongly between exiting and surviving establishments, and this difference becomes stronger as exit approaches. Moreover, we provide first evidence that prior to exit the workforce becomes on average more skilled, more female, and older in exiting compared to surviving establishments. These effects are more clearly visible in West than in East Germany.

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Establishment Survival in East and West Germany: A Comparative Analysis

Daniel Fackler

in: Schmollers Jahrbuch, No. 2, 2014

Abstract

Using a large administrative dataset, this paper compares the development of new establishments’ survival chances in East and West Germany for the period 1994 – 2008. A central question is whether convergence with respect to survival rates between East and West Germany can be observed. Using methods of survival analysis, I find that new establishments’ survival chances do not differ strongly between East and West Germany at the beginning of the observation period. In 1998 and 1999 the exit hazard increases strongly in East but not in West Germany, which is likely to be due to a change in the subsidy policy affecting East Germany. Since the turn of the millennium, the difference in establishments’ exit hazard between East and West Germany becomes smaller, indicating that there is convergence with respect to establishments’ survival chances.

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Establishment Exits in Germany: The Role of Size and Age

Daniel Fackler Claus Schnabel J. Wagner

in: Small Business Economics, No. 3, 2013

Abstract

Using comprehensive data for West Germany, this paper investigates the determinants of establishment exit. We find that between 1975 and 2006 the average exit rate has risen considerably. In order to test various “liabilities” of establishment survival identified in the literature, we analyzed the impact of establishment size and put a special focus on differences between young and mature establishments. Our empirical analysis shows that the mortality risk falls with establishment size, which confirms the liability of smallness. The probability of exit is substantially higher for young establishments which are not more than 5 years old, thus confirming the liability of newness. There also exists a liability of aging since exit rates first decline over time, reaching a minimum at ages 15–18, and then rise again somewhat. The determinants of exit differ substantially between young and mature establishments, suggesting that young establishments are more vulnerable in a number of ways.

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