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 ‐ 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.

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

HIP, RIP, and the Robustness of Empirical Earnings Processes

Florian Hoffmann

in: Quantitative Economics, No. 3, 2019

Abstract

The dispersion of individual returns to experience, often referred to as heterogeneity of income profiles (HIP), is a key parameter in empirical human capital models, in studies of life‐cycle income inequality, and in heterogeneous agent models of life‐cycle labor market dynamics. It is commonly estimated from age variation in the covariance structure of earnings. In this study, I show that this approach is invalid and tends to deliver estimates of HIP that are biased upward. The reason is that any age variation in covariance structures can be rationalized by age‐dependent heteroscedasticity in the distribution of earnings shocks. Once one models such age effects flexibly the remaining identifying variation for HIP is the shape of the tails of lag profiles. Credible estimation of HIP thus imposes strong demands on the data since one requires many earnings observations per individual and a low rate of sample attrition. To investigate empirically whether the bias in estimates of HIP from omitting age effects is quantitatively important, I thus rely on administrative data from Germany on quarterly earnings that follow workers from labor market entry until 27 years into their career. To strengthen external validity, I focus my analysis on an education group that displays a covariance structure with qualitatively similar properties like its North American counterpart. I find that a HIP model with age effects in transitory, persistent and permanent shocks fits the covariance structure almost perfectly and delivers small and insignificant estimates for the HIP component. In sharp contrast, once I estimate a standard HIP model without age‐effects the estimated slope heterogeneity increases by a factor of thirteen and becomes highly significant, with a dramatic deterioration of model fit. I reach the same conclusions from estimating the two models on a different covariance structure and from conducting a Monte Carlo analysis, suggesting that my quantitative results are not an artifact of one particular sample.

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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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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, No. 5, 2018

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze how long-run unemployment of former apprentices depends on the size of their training firm and their ability.

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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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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

Abstract

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. 20, 2020

Abstract

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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Organised Labour, Labour Market Imperfections, and Employer Wage Premia

Sabien Dobbelaer Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: IZA Discussion Paper, No. 13909, 2020

Abstract

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.

read publication

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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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Does Working at a Start-Up Pay Off?

Daniel Fackler Lisa Hölscher Claus Schnabel Antje Weyh

in: IZA Institute of Labor Economics - Discussion Paper Series, No. 13033, 2020

Abstract

Using representative linked employer-employee data for Germany, this paper analyzes short- and long-run differences in labor market performance of workers joining startups instead of incumbent firms. Applying entropy balancing and following individuals over ten years, we find huge and long-lasting drawbacks from entering a start-up in terms of wages, yearly income, and (un)employment. These disadvantages hold for all groups of workers and types of start-ups analyzed. Although our analysis of different subsequent career paths highlights important heterogeneities, it does not reveal any strategy through which workers joining start-ups can catch up with the income of similar workers entering incumbent firms.

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