Innovation, Productivity, and Economic Dynamics
The research group deals with the empirical analysis of the dynamics and determinants of economic development. Thereby, we recognize that these are individual heterogeneous firms with their specific capabilities to innovate and to efficiently allocate scarce resources that shape patterns at higher level of aggregation (e.g. cause structural change). While following a micro-level approach we aim at adding to the understanding of the actual mechanisms and dynamics in the development of economies as well as for the development of policy instruments. For instance, one of the current research projects deals with the effect of import competition on the productivity and innovating behaviour of firms as well as on the dynamic in and of industries
The research group works closely together with CompNet.
Research ClusterProductivity and Innovation
The Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet)
Funding institutions: European Central Bank (ECB), European Investment Bank (EIB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Tinbergen Institute, European Commission.
The Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet) provides a forum for high level research and policy analysis in the areas of competitiveness and productivity. Its main activities include the regular updating of its micro-based competitiveness database for European countries, unprecedented in terms of coverage and cross-country comparability.
Immigration and Entrepreneurship in the United States
in: American Economic Review: Insights, forthcoming
Immigration can expand labor supply and create greater competition for native-born workers. But immigrants may also start new firms, expanding labor demand. This paper uses U.S. administrative data and other data resources to study the role of immigrants in entrepreneurship. We ask how often immigrants start companies, how many jobs these firms create, and how these firms compare with those founded by U.S.-born individuals. A simple model provides a measurement framework for addressing the dual roles of immigrants as founders and workers. The findings suggest that immigrants act more as "job creators" than "job takers" and that non-U.S. born founders play outsized roles in U.S. high-growth entrepreneurship
Changing Business Dynamism and Productivity: Shocks versus Responsiveness
in: American Economic Review, No. 12, 2020
The pace of job reallocation has declined in the United States in recent decades. We draw insight from canonical models of business dynamics in which reallocation can decline due to (i) lower dispersion of idiosyncratic shocks faced by businesses, or (ii) weaker marginal responsiveness of businesses to shocks. We show that shock dispersion has actually risen, while the responsiveness of business-level employment to productivity has weakened. Moreover, declining responsiveness can account for a significant fraction of the decline in the pace of job reallocation, and we find suggestive evidence this has been a drag on aggregate productivity.
Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship
in: American Economic Review: Insights, No. 1, 2020
Many observers, and many investors, believe that young people are especially likely to produce the most successful new firms. Integrating administrative data on firms, workers, and owners, we study start-ups systematically in the United States and find that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. The mean age at founding for the 1-in-1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success. These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs.
Business Dynamics Statistics of High Tech Industries
in: Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, No. 1, 2020
Modern market economies are characterized by the reallocation of resources from less productive, less valuable activities to more productive, more valuable ones. Businesses in the High Tech sector play a particularly important role in this reallocation by introducing new products and services that impact the entire economy. In this paper we describe an extension to the Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics that tracks job creation, job destruction, startups, and exits by firm and establishment characteristics, including sector, firm age, and firm size in the High Tech sector. We preview the resulting statistics, showing the structural shifts in the High Tech sector over the past 30 years, including the surge of entry and young firm activity in the 1990s that reversed abruptly in the early‐2000s.
Labor Market Power and the Distorting Effects of International Trade
in: International Journal of Industrial Organization, January 2020
This article examines how final product trade with China shapes and interacts with labor market imperfections that create market power in labor markets and prevent an efficient market outcome. I develop a framework for measuring such labor market power distortions in monetary terms and document large degrees of these distortions in Germany's manufacturing sector. Import competition only exerts labor market disciplining effects if firms, rather than employees, possess labor market power. Otherwise, increasing export demand and import competition both fortify existing distortions, which decreases labor market efficiency. This widens the gap between potential and realized output and thus diminishes classical gains from trade.
European Firm Concentration and Aggregate Productivity
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 5, 2021
This article derives a European Herfindahl-Hirschman concentration index from 15 micro-aggregated country datasets. In the last decade, European concentration rose due to a reallocation of economic activity towards large and concentrated industries. Over the same period, productivity gains from reallocation accounted for 50% of European productivity growth and markups stayed constant. Using country-industry variation, we show that changes in concentration are positively associated with changes in productivity and allocative efficiency. This holds across most sectors and countries and supports the notion that rising concentration in Europe reflects a more efficient market environment rather than weak competition and rising market power.
Capital Misallocation and Innovation
in: SSRN Solutions Research Paper Series, 2020
This paper documents that "zombie" lending by undercapitalized banks distorts competition and impedes corporate innovation. This misallocation of capital prevents both the exit of zombie and entry of healthy firms in affected industries adversely impacting output and competition. Worse, capital misallocation depresses patent applications, particularly in high technology- and R&D-intensive sectors, and industries with neck- and-neck competition. We strengthen our results using an IV approach to address reverse causality and innovation survey data from the European Commission. Overall, our results are consistent with externalities imposed on healthy firms through the misallocation of capital.
The East-West German Gap in Revenue Productivity: Just a Tale of Output Prices?
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 14, 2020
East German manufacturers’ revenue productivity (value-added per worker) is some 8 (25) percent below West German levels, even three decades after German unification. Using firm-product-level data containing information on product quantities and prices, we analyse the role of product specialisation and reject the prominent ‚extended work bench hypothesis‘, stating a specialisation of Eastern firms in the intermediate input production as explanation for these sustained productivity differences. We decompose the East’s revenue productivity disadvantage into Eastern firms selling at lower prices and producing more physical output for given amounts of inputs within ten-digit product industries. This suggests that Eastern firms specialise vertically in simpler product varieties generating less consumer value but being manufactured with less or cheaper inputs. Vertical specialisation, however, does not explain the productivity gap as Eastern firms are physically less productive for given product prices, implying a genuine physical productivity disadvantage of Eastern compared to Western firms.
Labour Market Power and Between-Firm Wage (In)Equality
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 13, 2020
I study how labour market power affects firm wage differences using German manufacturing sector firm-level data (1995-2016). In past decades, labour market power increasingly moderated rising between-firm wage inequality. This is because high-paying firms possess high and increasing labour market power and pay wages below competitive levels, whereas low-wage firms pay competitive wages. Over time, large, high-wage, high-productivity firms generate increasingly large labour market rents while selling on competitive product markets. This provides novel insights on why such “superstar firms” are profitable and successful. Using micro-aggregated data covering most economic sectors, I validate my results for ten other European countries.
Intangible Capital and Productivity. Firm-level Evidence from German Manufacturing
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2020
We study the importance of intangible capital (R&D, software, patents) for the measurement of productivity using firm-level panel data from German manufacturing. We first document a number of facts on the evolution of intangible investment over time, and its distribution across firms. Aggregate intangible investment increased over time. However, the distribution of intangible investment, even more so than that of physical investment, is heavily right-skewed, with many firms investing nothing or little, and a few firms having very large intensities. Intangible investment is also lumpy. Firms that invest more intensively in intangibles (per capita or as sales share) also tend to be more productive. In a second step, we estimate production functions with and without intangible capital using recent control function approaches to account for the simultaneity of input choice and unobserved productivity shocks. We find a positive output elasticity for research and development (R&D) and, to a lesser extent, software and patent investment. Moreover, the production function estimates show substantial heterogeneity in the output elasticities across industries and firms. While intangible capital has small effects for firms with low intangible intensity, there are strong positive effects for high-intensity firms. Finally, including intangibles in a gross output production function reduces productivity dispersion (measured by the 90-10 decile range) on average by 3%, in some industries as much as nearly 9%.