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

Your contact

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


01.2020 ‐ 12.2023

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


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


Works Councils and Separations: Voice, Monopoly, and Insurance Effects

Boris Hirsch Thorsten Schank Claus Schnabel

in: Industrial Relations, No. 4, 2010


Using a large linked employer–employee data set for Germany, we find that the existence of a works council is associated with a lower separation rate to employment, in particular for workers with low tenure. While works council monopoly effects show up in all specifications, clear voice effects are only visible for low tenured workers. Works councils also reduce separations to nonemployment, and this impact is more pronounced for men. Insurance effects only show up for workers with tenure of more than 2 years. Our results indicate that works councils to some extent represent the interests of a specific clientele.

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Kosten und Nutzen der Ausbildung an Tertiärbildungsinstitutionen im Vergleich

Martina Eschelbach G. Heineck Steffen Müller Regina T. Riphahn

in: Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, No. 2, 2010


We compare German institutions of tertiary education (universities and polytechnics) with respect to the cost of and the returns to their educational degrees. Based on cost data from two different sources we find that on average the expenditures of universities are lower than those of polytechnics when we consider expenditures per potential enrollee and per student enrolled during the regular education period. We apply data from the German Socio-economic Panel (2001–2007) to estimate the private returns to tertiary education and find higher returns to university than polytechnic training. These results are robust to a variety of alternative procedures.

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Differences in Labor Supply to Monopsonistic Firms and the Gender Pay Gap: An Empirical Analysis Using Linked Employer‐Employee Data from Germany

Boris Hirsch Thorsten Schank Claus Schnabel

in: Journal of Labor Economics, No. 2, 2010


This article investigates women’s and men’s labor supply to the firm within a semistructural approach based on a dynamic model of new monopsony. Using methods of survival analysis and a large linked employer‐employee data set for Germany, we find that labor supply elasticities are small (1.9–3.7) and that women’s labor supply to the firm is less elastic than men’s (which is the reverse of gender differences in labor supply usually found at the level of the market). Our results imply that at least one‐third of the gender pay gap might be wage discrimination by profit‐maximizing monopsonistic employers.

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The Gender Pay Gap under Duopsony: Joan Robinson meets Harold Hotelling

Boris Hirsch

in: Scottish Journal of Political Economy, No. 5, 2009


This paper presents an alternative explanation of the gender pay gap resting on a simple Hotelling-style duopsony model of the labour market. Since there are only two employers, equally productive women and men have to commute and face travel cost to do so. We assume that some women have higher travel cost, e.g., due to more domestic responsibilities. Employers exploit that women on average are less inclined to commute and offer lower wages to all women. Since women's firm-level labour supply is for this reason less wage-elastic, this model is in line with Robinson's explanation of wage discrimination.

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Capital Stock Approximation using Firm Level Panel Data: A Modified Perpetual Inventory Approach

Steffen Müller

in: Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, No. 4, 2008


Many recent studies exploring conditional factor demand or factor substitution issues use firm level panel data. A considerable number of establishment panels contains no direct information on the capital input, necessary for production or cost function estimation. Incorrect measurement of capital leads to biased estimates and casts doubt on any inference on output elasticities or input substitution properties. The perpetual inventory approach, commonly used for long panels, is a method that attenuates these problems. In this paper a modified perpetual inventory approach is proposed. This method provides more reliable measures for capital input when short firm panels are used and no direct information on capital input is available. The empirical results based on a replication study of Addison et al. (2006) support the conclusion that modified perpetual inventory is superior to previous attempts in particular when fixed effects estimation techniques are used. The method thus makes a considerable number of recently established firm panels accessible to more sophisticated production function or factor demand analyses.

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Working Papers


Exposure to Conflict, Migrations and Long-run Education and Income Inequality: Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Adnan Efendic Dejan Kovač Jacob N. Shapiro

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 11, 2022


We investigate the long-term relationship between conflict-related migration and individual socioeconomic inequality. Looking at the post-conflict environment of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), a former Yugoslav state most heavily impacted by the conflicts of the early 1990s, the paper focuses on differences in educational performance and income between four groups: migrants, internally displaced persons, former external migrants, and those who did not move. The analysis leverages a municipality-representative survey (n≈6,000) that captured self-reported education and income outcomes as well as migration histories. We find that individuals with greater exposure to conflict had systematically worse educational performance and lower earnings two decades after the war. Former external migrants now living in BiH have better educational and economic outcomes than those who did not migrate, but these advantages are smaller for individuals who were forced to move. We recommend that policies intended to address migration-related discrepancies should be targeted on the basis of individual and family experiences caused by conflict.

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The Impact of Delay: Evidence from Formal Out-of-Court Restructuring

Randall K. Filer Dejan Kovač Jacob N. Shapiro Stjepan Srhoj

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2021


Bankruptcy restructuring procedures are used in most legal systems to decide the fate of businesses facing financial hardship. We study how bargaining failures in such procedures impact the economic performance of participating firms in the context of Croatia, which introduced a „pre-bankruptcy settlement“ (PBS) process in the wake of the Great Recession of 2007 - 2009. Local institutions left over from the communist era provide annual financial statements for both sides of more than 180,000 debtor-creditor pairs, enabling us to address selection into failed negotiations by matching a rich set of creditor and debtor characteristics. Failures to settle at the PBS stage due to idiosyncratic bargaining problems, which effectively delays entry into the standard bankruptcy procedure, leads to a lower rate of survival among debtors as well as reduced employment, revenue, and profits. We also track how bargaining failures diffuse through the network of creditors, finding a significant negative effect on small creditors, but not others. Our results highlight the impact of delay and the importance of structuring bankruptcy procedures to rapidly resolve uncertainty about firms‘ future prospects.

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Organised Labour, Labour Market Imperfections, and Employer Wage Premia

Sabien Dobbelaer Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper, No. 81, 2020


This paper examines how collective bargaining through unions and workplace co-determination through works councils shape labour market imperfections and how labourmarket imperfections matter for employer wage premia. Based on representative Germanplant data for the years 1999{2016, we document that labour market imperfections arethe norm rather than the exception. Wage mark-downs, that is wages below the marginalrevenue product of labour rooted in employers' monopsony power, are the most prevalentoutcome. We further nd that both types of organised labour are accompanied by asmaller prevalence and intensity of wage mark-downs whereas the opposite holds for wagemark-ups, that is wages above the marginal revenue product of labour rooted in workers'monopoly power. Finally, we document a close link between our production-based labourmarket imperfection measures and employer wage premia. The prevalence and intensityof wage mark-downs are associated with a smaller level and larger dispersion of premiawhereas wage mark-ups are only accompanied by a higher premium level.

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Heterogeneity in Criminal Behaviour after Child Birth: the Role of Ethnicity

Kabir Dasgupta André Diegmann Tom Kirchmaier Alexander Plum

in: CEP Discussion Paper, No. 1732, 2020


This paper documents behavioral differences in parental criminality between majority and minority ethnic groups after child birth. The particular effect we exploit is that of the gender of the first-born child on fathers’ convictions rates. Based on detailed judicial and demographic data from New Zealand, we first show that the previously documented inverse relationship between having a son and father’s criminal behaviour holds across the average of the population. However, when splitting the fathers’ sample by ethnicity, the effect appears to be entirely driven by the white part of the population and that there is no effect on the native Maori. The strong ethnic divide is observed along many dimensions and challenges the implicitly made assumption in the economics of crime literature that findings are universally applicable across cultures and race.

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Robot Adoption at German Plants

Liuchun Deng Verena Plümpe Jens Stegmaier

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 19, 2020


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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