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 ClusterProductivity and Institutions
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.
01.2019 ‐ 06.2022
MICROPROD („Raising EU Productivity: Lessons from Improved Micro Data“)
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.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 764810.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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)
Economic Failure and the Role of Plant Age and Size
in: Small Business Economics, No. 3, 2015
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.
Is There Monopsonistic Discrimination against Immigrants?
in: ILR Review, No. 3, 2015
The authors investigate immigrants’ and natives’ labor supply to the firm within an estimation approach based on a dynamic monopsony framework. Applying duration models that account for unobserved worker heterogeneity to a large administrative employer–employee data set for Germany, they find that immigrants supply labor less elastically to firms than do natives. Under monopsonistic wage setting, the estimated elasticity differential predicts a 7.7 log points wage penalty for immigrants thereby accounting for the entire unexplained native–immigrant wage differential of 5.8 to 8.2 log points. When further distinguishing immigrant groups differing in their time spent in the German labor market, their immigration cohort, and their age at entry, the authors find that the observed unexplained wage differential is larger for those groups that show a larger elasticity differential relative to natives. These findings not only suggest that search frictions are a likely cause of employers’ more pronounced monopsony power over their immigrant workers but also imply that employers profit from discriminating against immigrants.
Intergenerational Transmission of Unemployment - Evidence for German Sons
in: Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, No. 4, 2015
This paper studies the association between the unemployment experience of fathers and their sons. Based on German survey data that cover the last decades we find significant positive correlations. Using instrumental variables estimation and the Gottschalk (1996) method we investigate to what extent fathers' unemployment is causal for offsprings' employment outcomes. In agreement with most of the small international literature we do not find a positive causal effect for intergenerational unemployment transmission. This outcome is robust to alternative data structures and to tests at the intensive and extensive margin of unemployment.
Returns to Skills around the World: Evidence from PIAAC
in: European Economic Review, January 2015
Existing estimates of the labor-market returns to human capital give a distorted picture of the role of skills across different economies. International comparisons of earnings analyses rely almost exclusively on school attainment measures of human capital, and evidence incorporating direct measures of cognitive skills is mostly restricted to early-career workers in the United States. Analysis of the new PIAAC survey of adult skills over the full lifecycle in 23 countries shows that the focus on early-career earnings leads to underestimating the lifetime returns to skills by about one quarter. On average, a one-standard-deviation increase in numeracy skills is associated with an 18 percent wage increase among prime-age workers. But this masks considerable heterogeneity across countries. Eight countries, including all Nordic countries, have returns between 12 and 15 percent, while six are above 21 percent with the largest return being 28 percent in the United States. Estimates are remarkably robust to different earnings and skill measures, additional controls, and various subgroups. Instrumental-variable models that use skill variation stemming from school attainment, parental education, or compulsory-schooling laws provide even higher estimates. Intriguingly, returns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.
The Levelling Effect of Product Market Competition on Gender Wage Discrimination
in: IZA Journal of Labor Economics, No. 19, 2014
Using linked employer–employee panel data for West Germany that include direct information on the competition faced by plants, we investigate the effect of product market competition on the gender pay gap. Controlling for match fixed effects, we find that intensified competition significantly lowers the unexplained gap in plants with neither collective agreements nor a works council. Conversely, there is no effect in plants with these types of worker codetermination, which are unlikely to have enough discretion to adjust wages in the short run. We also document a larger competition effect in plants with few females in their workforces. Our findings are in line with Beckerian taste-based employer wage discrimination that is limited by competitive forces.
Safety Net or Helping Hand? The Effect of Job Search Assistance and Compensation on Displaced Workers
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 18, 2023
We provide the first systematic evidence on the effectiveness of a contested policy in Germany to help displaced workers. So-called “transfer companies” (<i>Transfergesellschaften</i>) employ displaced workers for a fixed period, during which time workers are provided with job-search assistance and are paid a wage which is a substantial fraction of their pre-displacement wage. Using rich and accurate data on workers’ employment patterns before and after displacement, we compare the earnings and employment outcomes of displaced workers who entered transfer companies with those that did not. Workers can choose whether or not to accept a position in a transfer company, and therefore we use the availability of a transfer company at the establishment level as an IV in a model of one-sided compliance. Using an event study, we find that workers who enter a transfer company have significantly worse post-displacement outcomes, but we show that this is likely to be the result of negative selection: workers who lack good outside opportunities are more likely to choose to enter the transfer company. In contrast, ITT and IV estimates indicate that the use of a transfer company has a positive and significant effect on employment rates five years after job loss, but no significant effect on earnings. In addition, the transfer company provides significant additional compensation to displaced workers in the first 12 months after job loss.
Committing to Grow: Privatizations and Firm Dynamics in East Germany
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 17, 2023
This paper investigates a unique policy designed to maintain employment during the privatization of East German firms after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The policy required new owners of the firms to commit to employment targets, with penalties for non-compliance. Using a dynamic model, we highlight three channels through which employment targets impact firms: distorted employment decisions, increased productivity, and higher exit rates. Our empirical analysis, using a novel dataset and instrumental variable approach, confirms these findings. We estimate a 22% points higher annual employment growth rate, a 14% points higher annual productivity growth, and a 3.6% points higher probability of exit for firms with binding employment targets. Our calibrated model further demonstrates that without these targets, aggregate employment would have been 15% lower after 10 years. Additionally, an alternative policy of productivity investment subsidies proved costly and less effective in the short term.
Why Is the Roy-Borjas Model Unable to Predict International Migrant Selection on Education? Evidence from Urban and Rural Mexico
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 16, 2023
The Roy-Borjas model predicts that international migrants are less educated than nonmigrants because the returns to education are generally higher in developing (migrant-sending) than in developed (migrant-receiving) countries. However, empirical evidence often shows the opposite. Using the case of Mexico-U.S. migration, we show that this inconsistency between predictions and empirical evidence can be resolved when the human capital of migrants is assessed using a two-dimensional measure of occupational skills rather than by educational attainment. Thus, focusing on a single skill dimension when investigating migrant selection can lead to misleading conclusions about the underlying economic incentives and behavioral models of migration.
Do Role Models Matter in Large Classes? New Evidence on Gender Match Effects in Higher Education
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 14, 2023
It is well established that female students perform better when taught by female professors. However, little is known about the mechanisms explaining these gender match effects. Using administrative records from a German public university, which cover all programs and courses between 2006 and 2018, we show that gender match effects are sizable in smaller classes, but are absent in larger classes. These results suggest that direct and frequent interactions between students and professors are crucial for gender match effects to emerge. In contrast, the mere fact that one’s professor is female is not sufficient to increase performance of female students.
Where Do STEM Graduates Stem from? The Intergenerational Transmission of Comparative Skill Advantages
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 13, 2023
The standard economic model of occupational choice following a basic Roy model emphasizes individual selection and comparative advantage, but the sources of comparative advantage are not well understood. We employ a unique combination of Dutch survey and registry data that links math and language skills across generations and permits analysis of the intergenerational transmission of comparative skill advantages. Exploiting within-family between-subject variation in skills, we show that comparative advantages in math of parents are significantly linked to those of their children. A causal interpretation follows from a novel IV estimation that isolates variation in parent skill advantages due to their teacher and classroom peer quality. Finally, we show the strong influence of family skill transmission on children’s choices of STEM fields.