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

Your contact

Dr André Diegmann
Dr André Diegmann
Mitglied - Department Structural Change and Productivity
Send Message +49 345 7753-873 Personal page


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.

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


The Internet Effects on Sex Crime Offenses – Evidence from the Broadband Internet Expansion in Germany

André Diegmann

in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, September 2019


This paper studies the effects of the introduction of a new mass medium on sex crime in Germany. I use unique data on criminal offenses and broadband internet measured at the municipal level to shed light on this issue. In order to address endogeneity in broadband internet availability, I exploit technical peculiarities at the regional level that determine the roll-out of high-speed internet. Results provide evidence of a substitution effect of internet exposure on sex crime. The substitution effect is neither driven by differences in reporting behavior, nor by matching processes at the victim and offender side. This suggests that the consumption of extreme media plays an important role in explaining the documented high-speed internet effect.

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Does Extended Unemployment Benefit Duration Ameliorate the Negative Employment Effects of Job Loss?

Daniel Fackler Jens Stegmaier Eva Weigt

in: Labour Economics, 2019


We study the effect of job displacement due to bankruptcies on earnings and employment prospects of displaced workers and analyse whether extended potential unemployment benefit duration (PBD) ameliorates the negative consequences of job loss. Using German administrative linked employer-employee data, we find that job loss has long-lasting negative effects on earnings and employment. Displaced workers also more often end up in irregular employment relationships (part-time, marginal part-time employment, and temporary agency work) than their non-displaced counterparts. Applying a regression discontinuity approach that exploits a three months PBD extension at the age threshold of 50 we find hardly any effects of longer PBD on labour market outcomes of displaced workers.

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HIP, RIP, and the Robustness of Empirical Earnings Processes

Florian Hoffmann

in: Quantitative Economics, No. 3, 2019


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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Do Smarter Teachers Make Smarter Students?

Eric A. Hanushek Marc Piopiunik Simon Wiederhold

in: Education Next, No. 2, 2019


Student achievement varies widely across developed countries, but the source of these differences is not well understood. One obvious candidate, and a major focus of research and policy discussions both in the United States and abroad, is teacher quality.

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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


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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Working Papers


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


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


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


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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Do Role Models Matter in Large Classes? New Evidence on Gender Match Effects in Higher Education

Stephan Maurer Guido Schwerdt Simon Wiederhold

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.

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Where Do STEM Graduates Stem from? The Intergenerational Transmission of Comparative Skill Advantages

Eric A. Hanushek Babs Jacobs Guido Schwerdt Rolf van der Velden Stan Vermeulen Simon Wiederhold

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.

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