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 ‐ 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


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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Skills, Earnings, and Employment: Exploring Causality in the Estimation of Returns to Skills

Franziska Hampf Simon Wiederhold Ludger Woessmann

in: Large-scale Assessments in Education, No. 12, 2017


Ample evidence indicates that a person’s human capital is important for success on the labor market in terms of both wages and employment prospects. However, unlike the efforts to identify the impact of school attainment on labor-market outcomes, the literature on returns to cognitive skills has not yet provided convincing evidence that the estimated returns can be causally interpreted. Using the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills, this paper explores several approaches that aim to address potential threats to causal identification of returns to skills, in terms of both higher wages and better employment chances. We address measurement error by exploiting the fact that PIAAC measures skills in several domains. Furthermore, we estimate instrumental-variable models that use skill variation stemming from school attainment and parental education to circumvent reverse causation. Results show a strikingly similar pattern across the diverse set of countries in our sample. In fact, the instrumental-variable estimates are consistently larger than those found in standard least-squares estimations. The same is true in two “natural experiments,” one of which exploits variation in skills from changes in compulsory-schooling laws across U.S. states. The other one identifies technologically induced variation in broadband Internet availability that gives rise to variation in ICT skills across German municipalities. Together, the results suggest that least-squares estimates may provide a lower bound of the true returns to skills in the labor market.

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Coping with Change: International Differences in the Returns to Skills

Eric A. Hanushek Guido Schwerdt Simon Wiederhold Ludger Woessmann

in: Economics Letters, April 2017


International data from the PIAAC survey allow estimation of comparable labor-market returns to skills for 32 countries. Returns to skills are larger in faster growing economies, consistent with the hypothesis that skills are particularly important for adaptation to economic change.

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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


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


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


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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