Firm Dynamics and Employment Outcomes

In a market economy, firm foundations and closures are important drivers of resource (re)allocation, structural change, and economic development which is particularly important with respect to the economic transformation of East Germany from a state-directed to a market economy. At the same time, job displacement coming along with structural change may have serious consequences for affected employees, such as unemployment, earnings losses, or lower job quality in a new job. This research group uses microeconometric methods to analyze foundation, evolution, and failure of firms, the amount and quality of jobs created by new firms and the consequences of firm closures for employees, in particular in terms of labor market outcomes such as employment and wages.

Research Cluster
Productivity and Innovation

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Dr André Diegmann
Dr André Diegmann
Mitglied - Department Structural Change and Productivity
Send Message +49 345 7753-873 Personal page

EXTERNAL FUNDING

01.2020 ‐ 12.2023

The Rise of Populist Parties in Europe: The Dark Side of Globalization and Technological Change?

VolkswagenStiftung

Globalisation may have increased prosperity in general, but has also led to unemployment, wage inequality, outward migration and, thus, ageing populations in many European regions. This project examines whether these economic burdens lead to votes for populist parties.

see project's webpage

Professor Dr Steffen Müller

01.2019 ‐ 06.2022

MICROPROD („Raising EU Productivity: Lessons from Improved Micro Data“)

European Commission

The goal of MICROPROD is to contribute to a greater understanding of the challenges brought about in Europe by the fourth industrial revolution and the associated ‘productivity puzzle’ in a context of globalisation and digitisation, and to provide alternative policy options to better address these challenges.

see project's webpage

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 764810.

Professor Dr Steffen Müller

07.2018 ‐ 12.2020

Firm Wage Differentials in Imperfect Labour Markets: The Role of Market Power and Industrial Relations in Rent Splitting between Workers and Firms

German Research Foundation (DFG)

The main purpose of this proposal is to grasp a firmer understanding of how employment rents are split between workers and employers in imperfect labour markets and how labour market institutions, such as unions and works councils, influence the distribution of rents. In that it not only promises new insights into the wage formation process and the likely consequences of important labour market trends like falling unionisation and worker codetermination, but also promises to inform important public policy debates, such as which rights should be granted to organised labour.

see project's page on DFG website

Professor Dr Steffen Müller

02.2019 ‐ 09.2019

Evaluation of the IAB Establishment Panel 2018 and Preparation of a Results Report for West and East Germany

Final report: Fehlende Fachkräfte in Deutschland – Unterschiede in den Betrieben und mögliche Erklärungsfaktoren: Ergebnisse aus dem IAB-Betriebspanel 2018. IAB-Forschungsbericht 10/2019. (in German, English abstract available)

Dr Eva Dettmann

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

01.2018 ‐ 12.2018

Evaluation of the IAB Establishment Panel 2017 and Preparation of a Results Report for West and East Germany

Final report: Lohnunterschiede zwischen Betrieben in Ost- und Westdeutschland: Ausmaß und mögliche Erklärungsfaktoren. Ergebnisse aus dem IAB-Betriebspanel 2017. IAB-Forschungsbericht 6/2018. (in German, English abstract available)

Professor Dr Steffen Müller

01.2017 ‐ 09.2017

Evaluation of the IAB Establishment Panel 2016 and Preparation of a Results Report for West and East Germany

Final report: Produktivitätsunterschiede zwischen West- und Ostdeutschland und mögliche Erklärungsfaktoren. Ergebnisse aus dem IAB-Betriebspanel 2016. IAB-Forschungsbericht 16/2017. (in German, English abstract available)

Professor Dr Steffen Müller

Refereed Publications

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Works Councils and Establishment Productivity

Steffen Müller

in: ILR Review, No. 4, 2012

Abstract

Declining union density in many industrialized countries increases interest in alternative forms of employee representation, such as works councils. The German works council is one of the most powerful forms of worker representation in developed countries, but little is known of its causal effect on productivity. The author used a large linked employer-employee panel data set to examine this issue. Comparing firms with and without a works council, the author finds that establishments with a works council are on average 6.4% more productive; but he also presents evidence that this figure underestimates the true productivity effect of works councils.

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The Productivity Effect of Temporary Agency Work: Evidence from German Panel Data

Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller

in: Economic Journal, No. 562, 2012

Abstract

This study investigates the effect of temporary agency work on the user firm’s productivity. We hypothesise that using temporary agency work to enhance numerical flexibility and to screen job candidates may increase productivity, whereas temporary workers’ lower firm-specific human capital and spillover effects on the user’s permanent employees may adversely affect productivity. Other than the sparse existing literature on this issue, we exploit a large panel data set and control for time-invariant and time-varying unobserved heterogeneity by using the system GMM estimator. We find a robust hump-shaped effect of the extent of temporary agency work on the user firm’s productivity.

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Do Women Benefit from Competitive Markets? Product Market Competition and the Gender Pay Gap in Germany

Boris Hirsch Michael Oberfichtner Claus Schnabel

in: Economics Bulletin, No. 2, 2012

Abstract

Using a large linked employer–employee dataset for Germany with a direct plant-level measure of product market competition and controlling for job-cell fixed effects, we investigate whether relative wages of women benefit from strong competition. We find that the unexplained gender pay gap is about 2.4 log points lower in West German plants that face strong product market competition than in those experiencing weak competition, whereas no such link shows up for East Germany.

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Works Councils and Firm Profits Revisited

Steffen Müller

in: British Journal of Industrial Relations, No. 1, 2011

Abstract

As they are employee associations, it is typically presumed that works councils redistribute economic rents from firm owners to workers. And indeed, the empirical literature suggests that German works councils reduce profits. The studies on the profitability effect of works councils mainly use self-reported subjective profit evaluations of managers as the dependent variable. I argue that these are poor measures of real profits. Newly available information on firms' capital stock allows me to revisit the profit effect now using an objective profit measure. When utilizing the subjective measure I find the standard results; with the objective measure, however, the works council effect on profits is positive and significant.

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Betriebsräte und betriebliche Produktivität

Steffen Müller

in: Schmollers Jahrbuch, No. 1, 2011

Abstract

Employee participation via works councils is at the heart of the industrial relations in Germany. Despite considerable research, there is still no consensus on the effect works councils exert on establishment productivity. I estimate the statistical relationship between works council existence and establishment productivity using the most recent information from the IAB establishment panel and find that works council existence is related with a nine percent higher productivity. Based on the results of earlier studies, it is argued that the productivity effect of works councils exceeds the estimated statistical relationship.

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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 of robot use at the plant level 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 distribution of robots 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 plant size, low-skilled labour share, and exporter status to have strong and positive effect on future probability of robot adoption. Manufacturing plants impacted by the introduction of minimum wage in 2015 are also more likely to adopt robots. However, controlling for plant size, we find that plant-level productivity has no, if not negative, impact on robot adoption.

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Identifying Bankruptcies in German Social Security Data

Daniel Fackler Eva Hank Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: FDZ-Methodenreport, No. 10, 2017

Abstract

Many empirical studies about firm exits point out that it is important to distinguish between different types of closures, e.g., voluntary and involuntary liquidations. This report describes how exits due to bankruptcies can be identified in the German Establishment History Panel (BHP). In contrast to other closures, bankruptcies can be unambiguously regarded as indica-tion for economic failure and can therefore be interpreted as involuntary exits.

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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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