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
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


Works Councils and Other Plant-specific Forms of Employee Participation – Substitutes or Complements?

Stefan Ertelt Boris Hirsch Claus Schnabel

in: Industrielle Beziehungen, No. 3, 2017


Using data from the IAB Establishment Panel (2004-2013), this paper analyses the incidence, development and interdependence of works councils and other, typically managementinitiated forms of employee participation (such as round tables) in Germany. In the private sector, the incidence of works councils and other forms of participation is similar, but in very few establishments both bodies exist simultaneously. Econometric analyses based on recursive probit models indicate that partly different factors explain the existence of works councils and other forms of participation. Both bodies correlate negatively with respect to their incidence, foundation, and dissolution. This suggests that there exists a predominantly substitutive relationship between works councils and other forms of employee participation.

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The Dynamic Effects of Works Councils on Plant Productivity: First Evidence from Panel Data

Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: British Journal of Industrial Relations, No. 2, 2017


We estimate dynamic effects of works councils on labour productivity using newly available information from West German establishment panel data. Conditioning on plant fixed effects and control variables, we find negative productivity effects during the first five years after council introduction but a steady and substantial increase in the councils’ productivity effect thereafter. Our findings support a causal interpretation for the positive correlation between council existence and plant productivity that has been frequently reported in previous studies.

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Transferability of Skills across Sectors and Heterogeneous Displacement Costs

Moises Yi Steffen Müller Jens Stegmaier

in: American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, No. 5, 2017


We use rich German administrative data to estimate new measures of skill transferability between manufacturing and other sectors. These measures capture the value of workers' human capital when applied in different sectors and are directly related to workers' displacement costs. We estimate these transferability measures using a selection correction model, which addresses workers' endogenous mobility, and a novel selection instrument based on the social network of workers. Our results indicate substantial heterogeneity in how workers can transfer their skills when they move across sectors, which implies heterogeneous displacement costs that depend on the sector to which workers reallocate.

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Paternal Unemployment During Childhood: Causal Effects on Youth Worklessness and Educational Attainment

Steffen Müller Regina T. Riphahn Caroline Schwientek

in: Oxford Economic Papers, No. 1, 2017


Using long-running data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1984–2012), we investigate the impact of paternal unemployment on child labour market and education outcomes. We first describe correlation patterns and then use sibling fixed effects and the Gottschalk (1996) method to identify the causal effects of paternal unemployment. We find different patterns for sons and daughters. Paternal unemployment does not seem to causally affect the outcomes of sons. In contrast, it increases both daughters’ worklessness and educational attainment. We test the robustness of the results and explore potential explanations.

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Gender Wage Discrimination: Does the Extent of Competition in Labor Markets Explain why Female Workers are Paid Less than Men?

Boris Hirsch

in: IZA World of Labor, No. 310, 2016


There are pronounced and persistent wage differences between men and women in all parts of the world. A significant element of these wage disparities can be attributed to differences in worker and workplace characteristics, which are likely to mirror differences in worker productivity. However, a large part of these differences remains unexplained, and it is common to attribute them to discrimination by the employer that is rooted in prejudice against female workers. Yet recent empirical evidence suggests that, to a large extent, the gaps reflect “monopsonistic” wage discrimination—that is, employers exploiting their wage-setting power over women—rather than any sort of prejudice.

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Working Papers


Oxytocin, Empathy, Altruism and Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from Blood Donations

Irena Jukić Dejan Kovač Danijela Vuletić Čugalj

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 4, 2023


We conducted a field experiment in the natural setting of blood donations to test how oxytocin relates to empathy and altruism. We randomly assigned blood donors in the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine to three groups with the aim to induce different levels of empathy by showing a neutral video to the donors from the control group and an emotional to the donors from the first and second treatment groups. In addition to watching the emotional video, donors from the second treatment group are given a gift which relates to the emotional story from the video. We find no effect of our treatment on induced levels of oxytocin. Null effects of our treatments could be explained by the above average baseline levels of oxytocin and inability of our treatments to provoke emotional stimuli in blood donors. Nonetheless, for our empathy measures we find the effect of gift exchange on empathic concerns, but not on perspective taking. After our experimental treatments, we followed the return of our blood donors for a whole year. We find that only variable which consistently predicts return for blood donation in stated period is the number of previous donations. From policy perspective it is an important finding. Especially for hospitals and other blood providers when faced with time and resource constraints.

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Organised Labour, Labour Market Imperfections, and Employer Wage Premia

Sabien Dobbelaere Boris Hirsch Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 20, 2022


This paper examines how collective bargaining through unions and workplace codetermination through works councils shape labour market imperfections and how labour market imperfections matter for employer wage premia. Based on representative German plant data for the years 1999–2016, we document that employer monopsony involving below competitive wages is far more prevalent than the contrary worker monopoly. We further find a smaller prevalence and intensity of employer monopsony when unions or works councils are present and the opposite for worker monopoly. Finally, we document a close link between labour market imperfections and employer wage premia. The presence and intensity of employer monopsony are associated with a lower level and larger dispersion of premia, whereas more intense worker monopoly is accompanied by a higher level only.

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Identifying Rent-sharing Using Firms‘ Energy Input Mix

Matthias Mertens Steffen Müller Georg Neuschäffer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 19, 2022


We present causal evidence on the rent-sharing elasticity of German manufacturing firms. We develop a new firm-level Bartik instrument for firm rents that combines the firms‘ predetermined energy input mix with national energy carrier price changes. Reduced-form evidence shows that higher energy prices depress wages. Instrumental variable estimation yields a rent-sharing elasticity of approximately 0.20. Rent-sharing induced by energy price variation is asymmetric and driven by energy price increases, implying that workers do not benefit from energy price reductions but are harmed by price increases. The rent-sharing elasticity is substantially larger in small (0.26) than in large (0.17) firms.

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Preferred Field of Study and Academic Performance

Francesco Berlingieri André Diegmann Maresa Sprietsma

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 16, 2022


This paper investigates the impact of studying the first-choice university subject on dropout and switching field of study for a cohort of students in Germany. Using detailed survey data, and employing an instrumental variable strategy based on variation in the local field of study availability, we provide evidence that students who are not enrolled in their preferred field of study are more likely to change their field, delay graduation and drop out of university. The estimated impact on dropout is particularly strong among students of low socio-economic status and is driven by lower academic performance and motivation.

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Robot Adoption at German Plants

Liuchun Deng Verena Plümpe Jens Stegmaier

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 19, 2020


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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