The Economic Gap between East and West Germany
The group uses innovative methods to investigate why the economy in eastern Germany is still lagging behind that in western Germany – and what role the privatisation process 30 years ago played in this.
The main project of the group investigates the privatisation of former GDR businesses by the Treuhandanstalt. To what extent did the qualifications of the selected managers or their networking with other decision-makers play a role? How would eastern German firms be performing today if exclusively the most talented entrepreneurs had been put in charge? The group uses data at a micro level (firms, managers, patents, ideas) in order to answer macroeconomic questions with the help of a model estimation. The second research project analyses why highly innovative firms are established less frequently in eastern than in western Germany, and also examines the role of migrants in economic growth and knowledge creation in Germany. Finally, the third research project looks for reasons for the slowing productivity growth in Europe using CompNet data.
Research ClusterMacroeconomic Dynamics and Stability
Innovation and Top Income Inequality
in: The Review of Economic Studies, No. 1, 2019
In this article, we use cross-state panel and cross-U.S. commuting-zone data to look at the relationship between innovation, top income inequality and social mobility. We find positive correlations between measures of innovation and top income inequality. We also show that the correlations between innovation and broad measures of inequality are not significant. Next, using instrumental variable analysis, we argue that these correlations at least partly reflect a causality from innovation to top income shares. Finally, we show that innovation, particularly by new entrants, is positively associated with social mobility, but less so in local areas with more intense lobbying activities.
Innovation, Reallocation, and Growth
in: American Economic Review, No. 11, 2018
We build a model of firm-level innovation, productivity growth, and reallocation featuring endogenous entry and exit. A new and central economic force is the selection between high- and low-type firms, which differ in terms of their innovative capacity. We estimate the parameters of the model using US Census microdata on firm-level output, R&D, and patenting. The model provides a good fit to the dynamics of firm entry and exit, output, and R&D. Taxing the continued operation of incumbents can lead to sizable gains (of the order of 1.4 percent improvement in welfare) by encouraging exit of less productive firms and freeing up skilled labor to be used for R&D by high-type incumbents. Subsidies to the R&D of incumbents do not achieve this objective because they encourage the survival and expansion of low-type firms.
Growth through Heterogeneous Innovations
in: Journal of Political Economy, No. 4, 2018
We build a tractable growth model in which multiproduct incumbents invest in internal innovations to improve their existing products, while new entrants and incumbents invest in external innovations to acquire new product lines. External and internal innovations generate heterogeneous innovation qualities, and firm size affects innovation incentives. We analyze how different types of innovation contribute to economic growth and the role of the firm size distribution. Our model aligns with many observed empirical regularities, and we quantify our framework with Census Bureau and patent data for US firms. Internal innovation scales moderately faster with firm size than external innovation.
On the Returns to Invention within Firms: Evidence from Finland
in: American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings, 2018
In this paper we merge individual income data, firm-level data, patenting data, and IQ data in Finland over the period 1988–2012 to analyze the returns to invention for inventors and their coworkers or stakeholders within the same firm. We find that: (i) inventors collect only 8 percent of the total private return from invention; (ii) entrepreneurs get over 44 percent of the total gains; (iii) bluecollar workers get about 26 percent of the gains and the rest goes to white-collar workers. Moreover, entrepreneurs start with significant negative returns prior to the patent application, but their returns subsequently become highly positive.
Economic Growth: The Past, the Present, and the Future
in: Journal of Political Economy, No. 6, 2017
“Is there some action a government of India could take that would lead the Indian economy to grow like Indonesia’s or Egypt’s? If so, what, exactly? If not, what is it about the ‘nature of India’ that makes it so? The consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: Once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else. (Lucas 1988, 5)” These words by the Nobel laureate Chicago economist Robert Lucas Jr. summarize why so many great scholars found it hard to “think about anything else” and spent their careers trying to understand the process of economic growth. Economies are complex systems resulting from the actions of many actors. This complexity makes it challenging, but also infinitely interesting, to understand the determinants of economic growth. What are the roles of human capital, fertility, ideas, basic science, and public policy for growth? These are just some of the important questions that were posed by many highly influential studies featured in the issues of the Journal of Political Economy over the years. Indeed, this journal has been the platform to diffuse many of the brilliant ideas and start important debates in the field of economic growth. In this short paper, my goal is to revisit some of those seminal papers, briefly describe some of the more recent contributions, and end with some thoughts about the future direction of the field. The reader should note in advance that the list of work covered here is by no means exhaustive and mostly targets work that has been featured in issues of the JPE.
Police Reorganization and Crime: Evidence from Police Station Closures
in: German Council of Economic Experts Working Paper, No. 7, 2019
Does the administrative organization of police affect crime? In answering this question, we focus on the reorganization of local police agencies. Specifically, we study the effects police force reallocation via station closures has on local crime. We do this by exploiting a quasi-experiment where a reform substantially reduced the number of police stations. Combining a matching strategy with an event-study design, we find no effects on total theft. Police station closures, however, open up tempting opportunities for criminals in car theft and burglary in residential properties. We can rule out that our effects arise from incapacitation, crime displacement, or changes in employment of local police forces. Our results suggest that criminals are less deterred after police station closures and use the opportunity to steal more costly goods.