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


04.2016 ‐ 03.2019

Wage and Employment Effects of Bankruptcies

German Research Foundation (DFG)

Obwohl die Folgen von Insolvenzen für betroffene Arbeitnehmer immer wieder Gegenstand öffentlicher Debatten sind (z.B. infolge der Insolvenz der Drogeriemarktkette Schlecker im Jahr 2012), ist die vorhandene empirische Evidenz dazu eher dürftig. Dies gilt in besonderem Maße für die Folgen von kleinbetrieblichen Insolvenzen, die weitaus häufiger stattfinden als öffentlichkeitswirksame Großinsolvenzen. Ziel dieses Projekts ist es daher, grundlegende Erkenntnisse über Insolvenzen und deren Folgen für betroffene Arbeitnehmer zu gewinnen.

Dr Daniel Fackler

01.2018 ‐ 12.2018

IAB Establishment Panel 2017

Bundesagentur für Arbeit

Dr Eva Dettmann

Refereed Publications


Economic Failure and the Role of Plant Age and Size

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

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.

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Is There Monopsonistic Discrimination against Immigrants?

Boris Hirsch Elke J. Jahn

in: Industrial and Labor Relations 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.

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Intergenerational Transmission of Unemployment - Evidence for German Sons

M. Mäder Steffen Müller Caroline Schwientek Regina T. Riphahn

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.

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The Levelling Effect of Product Market Competition on Gender Wage Discrimination

Boris Hirsch Michael Oberfichtner Claus Schnabel

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.

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Do Better Pre-migration Skills Accelerate Immigrants' Wage Assimilation?

Boris Hirsch Elke J. Jahn Ott Toomet Daniela Hochfellner

in: Labour Economics, 2014


This paper analyzes wage assimilation of ethnic German immigrants to Germany using unique administrative data that include an administrative estimate of immigrants' expected wage in Germany at the time of migration. We find that a 10% higher wage potential translates into a 1.6% higher wage in Germany when also controlling for educational attainment, thus pointing at partial transferability of pre-migration skills to the host country's labor market. We also document that wage assimilation is significantly accelerated for immigrants with higher wage potentials. Our results are both in line with complementarities between pre-migration skills and host country-specific human capital and a U-shaped pattern of immigrants' job mobility with initial downgrading and subsequent upgrading.

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Working Papers


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


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


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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Who Buffers Income Losses After Job Displacement? The Role of Alternative Income Sources, the Family, and the State

Daniel Fackler Eva Hank

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 28, 2016


Using survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), this paper analyses to what extent alternative income sources, reactions within the household context, and redistribution by the state attenuate earnings losses after job displacement. Applying propensity score matching and fixed effects estimations, we find high individual earnings losses after job displacement and only limited convergence. Income from selfemployment slightly reduces the earnings gap and severance payments buffer losses in the short run. On the household level, we find substantial and rather persistent losses in per capita labour income. We do not find that increased labour supply by other household members contributes to the compensation of the income losses. Most importantly, our results show that redistribution within the tax and transfer system substantially mitigates income losses of displaced workers both in the short and the long run whereas other channels contribute only little.

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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


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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