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 ‐ 06.2024

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


Do Employers Have More Monopsony Power in Slack Labor Markets?

Boris Hirsch Elke J. Jahn Claus Schnabel

in: ILR Review, No. 3, 2018


This article confronts monopsony theory’s predictions regarding workers’ wages with observed wage patterns over the business cycle. Using German administrative data for the years 1985 to 2010 and an estimation framework based on duration models, the authors construct a time series of the labor supply elasticity to the firm and estimate its relationship to the unemployment rate. They find that firms possess more monopsony power during economic downturns. Half of this cyclicality stems from workers’ job separations being less wage driven when unemployment rises, and the other half mirrors that firms find it relatively easier to poach workers. Results show that the cyclicality is more pronounced in tight labor markets with low unemployment, and that the findings are robust to controlling for time-invariant unobserved worker or plant heterogeneity. The authors further document that cyclical changes in workers’ entry wages are of similar magnitude as those predicted under pure monopsonistic wage setting.

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Losing Work, Moving Away? Regional Mobility After Job Loss

Daniel Fackler Lisa Rippe

in: LABOUR: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, No. 4, 2017


Using German survey data, we investigate the relationship between involuntary job loss and regional mobility. Our results show that job loss has a strong positive effect on the propensity to relocate. We also analyse whether displaced workers who relocate to a different region after job loss are better able to catch up with non-displaced workers in terms of labour market performance than those staying in the same region. Our findings do not support this conjecture as we find substantial long-lasting earnings losses for movers and stayers and even slightly but not significantly higher losses for movers.

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Coming to Work While Sick: An Economic Theory of Presenteeism With an Application to German Data

Boris Hirsch Daniel S. J. Lechmann Claus Schnabel

in: Oxford Economic Papers, No. 4, 2017


Presenteeism, i.e. attending work while sick, is widespread and associated with significant costs. Still, economic analyses of this phenomenon are rare. In a theoretical model, we show that presenteeism arises due to differences between workers in (healthrelated) disutility from workplace attendance. As these differences are unobservable by employers, they set wages that incentivise sick workers to attend work. Using a large representative German data set, we test several hypotheses derived from our model. In line with our predictions, we find that bad health status and stressful working conditions are positively related to presenteeism. Better dismissal protection, captured by higher tenure, is associated with slightly fewer presenteeism days, whereas the role of productivity and skills is inconclusive.

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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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Working Papers


Income Shocks, Political Support and Voting Behaviour

Richard Upward Peter Wright

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2024


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


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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