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 Daniel Fackler
Dr Daniel Fackler
Mitglied - Department Structural Change and Productivity
Send Message +49 345 7753-862

EXTERNAL FUNDING

01.2020 ‐ 12.2023

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

VolkswagenStiftung

The ultimate goal of the project is to assess whether economic hardship, caused by forces hitting open economies - typically viewed as being beyond the control of individual voters and national authorities - can explain the recent success of populist and nationalist movements in the EU.

Professor Dr Steffen Müller

01.2019 ‐ 12.2021

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.

IWH project page

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.

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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Size of Training Firms and Cumulated Long-run Unemployment Exposure – The Role of Firms, Luck, and Ability in Young Workers’ Careers

Steffen Müller Renate Neubäumer

in: International Journal of Manpower, forthcoming

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Why Is there Resistance to Works Councils In Germany? An Economic Perspective

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: Economic and Industrial Democracy, forthcoming

Abstract

Recent empirical research generally finds evidence of positive economic effects for works councils, for example with regard to productivity and – with some limitations – to profits. This makes it necessary to explain why employers’ associations have reservations about works councils. On the basis of an in-depth literature analysis, this article shows that beyond the generally positive findings, there are important heterogeneities in the impact of works councils. The authors argue that those groups of employers that tend to benefit little from employee participation in terms of productivity and profits may well be important enough to shape the agenda of their employers’ organization and have even gained in importance within their organizations in recent years. The authors also discuss the role of deviations from profit-maximizing behavior like risk aversion, short-term profit-maximization and other non-pecuniary motives, as possible reasons for employer resistance.

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Industrial Relations: Worker Codetermination and Collective Wage Bargaining

Steffen Müller Claus Schnabel

in: Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, No. 1, 2019

Abstract

Trade unions and employers’ associations, collective bargaining, and employee representation at the workplace are the cornerstones of industrial relations systems in many developed countries. Germany stands out as a country with powerful works councils and a high coverage rate of collective bargaining agreements, supported by encompassing interest groups of employees and employers and by the state. The German case and the perceived stability of its industrial relations regime have attracted considerable attention among researchers and politicians, which also has to do with the country’s high productivity, comparably few strikes, and relatively minor employment problems. However, in recent years industrial relations in many countries including Germany have come under pressure and the fact that there is no obvious and clearly superior alternative to the current regime of industrial and labour relations may not be sufficient to guarantee the survival of the present system.

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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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Do Employers Have More Monopsony Power in Slack Labor Markets?

Boris Hirsch Elke J. Jahn Claus Schnabel

in: ILR Review, No. 3, 2018

Abstract

This article confronts monopsony theory’s predictions regarding workers’ wages with observed wage patterns over the business cycle. Using German administrative data for the years 1985 to 2010 and an estimation framework based on duration models, the authors construct a time series of the labor supply elasticity to the firm and estimate its relationship to the unemployment rate. They find that firms possess more monopsony power during economic downturns. Half of this cyclicality stems from workers’ job separations being less wage driven when unemployment rises, and the other half mirrors that firms find it relatively easier to poach workers. Results show that the cyclicality is more pronounced in tight labor markets with low unemployment, and that the findings are robust to controlling for time-invariant unobserved worker or plant heterogeneity. The authors further document that cyclical changes in workers’ entry wages are of similar magnitude as those predicted under pure monopsonistic wage setting.

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Working Papers

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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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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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