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
Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity
in: American Economic Review, No. 5, 2017
We build on the analysis in Akcigit, Grigsby, and Nicholas (2017) by using US patent and census data to examine the relationship between immigration and innovation. We construct a measure of foreign born expertise and show that technology areas where immigrant inventors were prevalent between 1880 and 1940 experienced more patenting and citations between 1940 and 2000. The contribution of immigrant inventors to US innovation was substantial. We also show that immigrant inventors were more productive than native born inventors; however, they received significantly lower levels of labor income. The immigrant inventor wage-gap cannot be explained by differentials in productivity.
Creative Destruction and Subjective Well-being
in: American Economic Review, No. 12, 2016
In this paper we analyze the relationship between turnover-driven growth and subjective well-being. Our model of innovation-led growth and unemployment predicts that: (i) the effect of creative destruction on expected individual welfare should be unambiguously positive if we control for unemployment, less so if we do not; (ii) job creation has a positive and job destruction has a negative impact on well-being; (iii) job destruction has a less negative impact in areas with more generous unemployment insurance policies; and (iv) job creation has a more positive effect on individuals that are more forward-looking. The empirical analysis using cross sectional MSA (metropolitan statistical area)-level and individual-level data provide empirical support to these predictions.
in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), No. 41, 2016
Technological progress builds upon itself, with the expansion of invention in one domain propelling future work in linked fields. Our analysis uses 1.8 million US patents and their citation properties to map the innovation network and its strength. Past innovation network structures are calculated using citation patterns across technology classes during 1975–1994. The interaction of this preexisting network structure with patent growth in upstream technology fields has strong predictive power on future innovation after 1995. This pattern is consistent with the idea that when there is more past upstream innovation for a particular technology class to build on, then that technology class innovates more.
Taxation and the International Mobility of Inventors
in: American Economic Review, No. 10, 2016
We study the effect of top tax rates on “superstar” inventors’ international mobility since 1977, using panel data on inventors from the US and European Patent Offices. We exploit the differential impact of changes in top tax rates on inventors of different qualities. Superstar inventors' location choices are significantly affected by top tax rates. In our preferred specification, the elasticity to the net-of-tax rate of the number of domestic superstar inventors is around 0.03, while that of foreign superstar inventors is around 1. These elasticities are larger for inventors in multinational companies. An inventor is less sensitive to taxes in a country if his company performs a higher share of its research there.
The Role of Information in Innovation and Competition
in: Journal of the European Economic Association, No. 4, 2016
Innovation is typically a trial‐and‐error process. While some research paths lead to the innovation sought, others result in dead ends. Because firms benefit from their competitors working in the wrong direction, they do not reveal their dead‐end findings. Time and resources are wasted on projects that other firms have already found to be fruitless. We offer a simple model with two firms and two research lines to study this prevalent problem. We characterize the equilibrium in a decentralized environment that necessarily entails significant efficiency losses due to wasteful dead‐end replication and an information externality that leads to an early abandonment of the risky project. We show that different types of firms follow different innovation strategies and create different kinds of welfare losses. In an extension of the core model, we also study a centralized mechanism whereby firms are incentivized to disclose their actions and share their private information in a timely manner.
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.
Do Digital Information Technologies Help Unemployed Job Seekers Find a Job? Evidence from the Broadband Internet Expansion in Germany
in: IFAU Working Paper 2018:21, 2018
This paper studies effects of the introduction of a new digital mass medium on reemployment of unemployed job seekers. We combine data on high-speed (broadband) internet availability at the local level with German individual register data. We address endogeneity by exploiting technological peculiarities that affected the roll-out of high-speed internet. The results show that high-speed internet improves reemployment rates after the first months in unemployment. This is confirmed by complementary analyses with individual survey data suggesting that internet access increases online job search and the number of job interviews after a few months in unemployment.