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 Institutions

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Dr André Diegmann
Dr André Diegmann
Mitglied - Department Structural Change and Productivity
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EXTERNAL FUNDING

01.2020 ‐ 06.2024

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 ‐ 06.2022

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

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Do Digital Information Technologies Help Unemployed Job Seekers Find a Job? Evidence from the Broadband Internet Expansion in Germany

Nicole Gürtzgen André Diegmann Laura Pohlan Gerard J. van den Berg

in: European Economic Review, February 2021

Abstract

This paper studies effects of the introduction of a new digital mass medium on reemployment of unemployed job seekers. We combine data on high-speed (broadband) internet availability at the local level with German individual register data. We address endogeneity by exploiting technological peculiarities that affected the roll-out of high-speed internet. The results show that high-speed internet improves reemployment rates after the first months in unemployment. This is confirmed by complementary analyses with individual survey data suggesting that internet access increases online job search and the number of job interviews after a few months in unemployment.

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Firm Wage Premia, Industrial Relations, and Rent Sharing in Germany

Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller

in: ILR Review, No. 5, 2020

Abstract

The authors use three distinct methods to investigate the influence of industrial relations on firm wage premia in Germany. First, ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions for the firm effects from a two-way fixed-effects decomposition of workers’ wages reveal that average premia are larger in firms bound by collective agreements and in firms with a works council, holding constant firm performance. Next, recentered influence function (RIF) regressions show that premia are less dispersed among covered firms but more dispersed among firms with a works council. Finally, in an Oaxaca–Blinder decomposition, the authors find that decreasing bargaining coverage is the only factor they consider that contributes to the marked rise in premia dispersion over time.

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Birds, Birds, Birds: Co-worker Similarity, Workplace Diversity and Job Switches

Boris Hirsch Elke J. Jahn Thomas Zwick

in: British Journal of Industrial Relations, No. 3, 2020

Abstract

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.

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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 Weigt

in: LABOUR: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, No. 3, 2020

Abstract

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.

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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, No. 3, 2020

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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Working Papers

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Do Politicians Affect Firm Outcomes? Evidence from Connections to the German Federal Parliament

André Diegmann Laura Pohlan Andrea Weber

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 15, 2024

Abstract

We study how connections to German federal parliamentarians affect firm dynamics by constructing a novel dataset to measure connections between politicians and the universe of firms. To identify the causal effect of access to political power, we exploit (i) new appointments to the company leadership team and (ii) discontinuities around the marginal seat of party election lists. Our results reveal that connections lead to reductions in firm exits, gradual increases in employment growth without improvements in productivity. The economic effects are mediated by better credit ratings while access to subsidies or procurement contracts are documented to be of lower importance.

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Income Shocks, Political Support and Voting Behaviour

Richard Upward Peter Wright

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2024

Abstract

We provide new evidence on the effects of economic shocks on political support, voting behaviour and political opinions over the last 25 years. We exploit a sudden, large and long-lasting shock in the form of job loss and trace out its impact on individual political outcomes for up to 10 years after the event. The availability of detailed information on households before and after the job loss event allows us to reweight a comparison group to closely mimic the job losers in terms of their observable characteristics, pre-existing political support and voting behaviour. We find consistent, long-lasting but quantitatively small effects on support and votes for the incumbent party, and short-lived effects on political engagement. We find limited impact on the support for fringe or populist parties. In the context of Brexit, opposition to the EU was much higher amongst those who lost their jobs, but this was largely due to pre-existing differences which were not exacerbated by the job loss event itself.

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Safety Net or Helping Hand? The Effect of Job Search Assistance and Compensation on Displaced Workers

Daniel Fackler Jens Stegmaier Richard Upward

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 18, 2023

Abstract

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.

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Committing to Grow: Privatizations and Firm Dynamics in East Germany

Ufuk Akcigit Harun Alp André Diegmann Nicolas Serrano-Velarde

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 17, 2023

Abstract

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.

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Why Is the Roy-Borjas Model Unable to Predict International Migrant Selection on Education? Evidence from Urban and Rural Mexico

Stefan Leopold Jens Ruhose Simon Wiederhold

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 16, 2023

Abstract

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.

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