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)
Birds, Birds, Birds: Co-worker Similarity, Workplace Diversity and Job Switches
in: British Journal of Industrial Relations, No. 3, 2020
We investigate how the demographic composition of the workforce along the sex, nationality, education, age and tenure dimensions affects job switches. Fitting duration models for workers’ job‐to‐job turnover rate that control for workplace fixed effects in a representative sample of large manufacturing plants in Germany during 1975–2016, we find that larger co‐worker similarity in all five dimensions substantially depresses job‐to‐job moves, whereas workplace diversity is of limited importance. In line with conventional wisdom, which has that birds of a feather flock together, our interpretation of the results is that workers prefer having co‐workers of their kind and place less value on diverse workplaces.
Who Buffers Income Losses after Job Displacement? The Role of Alternative Income Sources, the Family, and the State
in: LABOUR: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, No. 3, 2020
Using survey data from the German Socio‐Economic Panel (SOEP), this paper analyses the extent to which 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 that income from self‐employment reduces the earnings gap only slightly and severance payments buffer losses in the short run. On the household level, we find little evidence for an added worker effect whereas redistribution by the state within the tax and transfer system mitigates income losses substantially.
Why Is there Resistance to Works Councils In Germany? An Economic Perspective
in: Economic and Industrial Democracy, No. 3, 2020
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.
The Value of Smarter Teachers: International Evidence on Teacher Cognitive Skills and Student Performance
in: Journal of Human Resources, No. 4, 2019
We construct country-level measures of teacher cognitive skills using unique assessment data for 31 countries. We find substantial differences in teacher cognitive skills across countries that are strongly related to student performance. Results are supported by fixed-effects estimation exploiting within-country between-subject variation in teacher skills. A series of robustness and placebo tests indicate a systematic influence of teacher skills as distinct from overall differences among countries in the level of cognitive skills. Moreover, observed country variations in teacher cognitive skills are significantly related to differences in women’s access to high-skill occupations outside teaching and to salary premiums for teachers.
Do Start-ups Provide Employment Opportunities for Disadvantaged Workers?
in: ILR Review, No. 5, 2019
This article compares the hiring patterns of start-ups and incumbent firms to analyze whether start-ups offer relatively more job opportunities to disadvantaged workers. Using administrative linked employer–employee data for Germany that provide the complete employment biographies of newly hired workers, the authors show that young firms are more likely than incumbents to hire applicants who are older, foreign, or unemployed, or who have unstable employment histories, arrive from outside the labor force, or were affected by a plant closure. Analysis of entry wages shows that penalties for these disadvantaged workers, however, are higher in start-ups than in incumbent firms. Therefore, even if start-ups provide employment opportunities for certain groups of disadvantaged workers, the quality of these jobs in terms of initial remuneration appears to be low.
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.