Marktmacht, Inputkosten und Technologie

Im Fokus dieser Forschungsgruppe steht die empirische Analyse der Dynamik und Determinanten der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung. Dabei wird soweit wie möglich anerkannt, dass es einzelne heterogene Unternehmen sind, die durch ihre individuellen Fähigkeiten, Innovationen hervorzubringen und Ressourcen effizient zu allokieren, die Entwicklung auf höherer Aggregationsebene bestimmen. Insgesamt kann die mikrofundierte Analyse zu einem besseren Verständnis der eigentlichen Mechanismen und der Dynamik der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung und somit zur Entwicklung geeigneter wirtschaftspolitischer Instrumente beitragen. Beispielsweise beschäftigt sich eins der aktuellen Projekte dieser Forschungsgruppe mit den Effekten von (Import-)Wettbewerb auf Produktivität und Innovationsverhalten von Unternehmen sowie auf die Entwicklung in und von Branchen.

Die Forschungsgruppe arbeitet eng mit CompNet zusammen.

Produktivität und Institutionen

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Dr. Matthias Mertens
Dr. Matthias Mertens
Mitglied - Abteilung Strukturwandel und Produktivität
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09.2016 ‐

The Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet)

Mittelgeber: Europäische Zentralbank (EZB), Europäische Investitionsbank (EIB), Europäische Bank für Wiederaufbau und Entwicklung (EBRD), Tinbergen-Institut, Europäische Kommission.

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.

Professor Reint E. Gropp, Ph.D.

Referierte Publikationen


European Firm Concentration and Aggregate Productivity

Tommaso Bighelli Filippo di Mauro Marc Melitz Matthias Mertens

in: Journal of the European Economic Association, im Erscheinen


This paper 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 toward large and concentrated industries. Over the same period, productivity gains from an increasing allocative efficiency of the European market accounted for 50% of European productivity growth while 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.

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Paying Outsourced Labor: Direct Evidence from Linked Temp Agency-Worker-Client Data

Andres Drenik Simon Jäger Pascuel Plotkin Benjamin Schoefer

in: Review of Economics and Statistics, im Erscheinen


We estimate how much firms differentiate pay premia between regular and outsourced workers in temp agency work arrangements. We leverage unique Argentinian administrative data that feature links between user firms (the workplaces where temp workers perform their labor) and temp agencies (their formal employers). We estimate that a high-wage user firm that pays a regular worker a 10% premium pays a temp worker on average only a 4.9% premium, compared to what these workers would earn in a low-wage user firm in their respective work arrangements—the midpoint between the benchmarks for insiders (one) and the competitive spot-labor market (zero).

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Marginal Jobs and Job Surplus: A Test of the Efficiency of Separations

Simon Jäger Benjamin Schoefer Josef Zweimüller

in: Review of Economic Studies, im Erscheinen


We present a test of Coasean theories of efficient separations. We study a cohort of jobs from the introduction through the repeal of a large age- and region-specific unemployment benefit extension in Austria. In the treatment group, 18.5% fewer jobs survive the program period. According to the Coasean view, the destroyed marginal jobs had low joint surplus. Hence, after the repeal, the treatment survivors should be more resilient than the ineligible control group survivors. Strikingly, the two groups instead exhibit identical post-repeal separation behavior. We provide, and find suggestive evidence consistent with, an alternative model in which wage rigidity drives the inefficient separation dynamics.

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The East-West German Gap in Revenue Productivity: Just a Tale of Output Prices?

Matthias Mertens Steffen Müller

in: Journal of Comparative Economics, im Erscheinen


East German manufacturers’ revenue productivity is substantially below West German levels, even three decades after German unification. Using firm-product-level data with product quantities and prices, we analyze the role of product specialization and show that the prominent “extended work bench hypothesis” cannot explain these sustained productivity differences. Eastern firms specialize in simpler product varieties generating less consumer value and being manufactured with less or cheaper inputs. Yet, such specialization cannot explain the productivity gap because Eastern firms are physically less productive for given product prices. Hence, there is a genuine price-adjusted physical productivity disadvantage of Eastern compared to Western firms.

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What Does Codetermination Do?

Simon Jäger Shakked Noy Benjamin Schoefer

in: ILR Review, Nr. 4, 2022


The authors provide a comprehensive overview of codetermination, that is, worker representation in firms’ governance and management. The available micro evidence points to zero or small positive effects of codetermination on worker and firm outcomes and leaves room for moderate positive effects on productivity, wages, and job stability. The authors also present new country-level, general-equilibrium event studies of codetermination reforms between the 1960s and 2010s, finding no effects on aggregate economic outcomes or the quality of industrial relations. They offer three explanations for the institution’s limited impact. First, existing codetermination laws convey little authority to workers. Second, countries with codetermination laws have high baseline levels of informal worker voice. Third, codetermination laws may interact with other labor market institutions, such as union representation and collective bargaining. The article closes with a discussion of the implications for recent codetermination proposals in the United States.

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Do Larger Firms Have Higher Markups?

Matthias Mertens Bernardo Mottironi

in: IWH Discussion Papers, Nr. 1, 2023


Several models posit a positive cross-sectional correlation between markups and firm size, which, among others, characterizes misallocation, factor shares, and gains from trade. Yet, taking labor market power into account in markup estimation, we show that larger firms have lower markups. This correlation turns positive only after conditioning on wage markdowns, suggesting interactions between product and labor market power. Our findings are robust to common criticism (e.g., price bias) and hold across 19 European countries. We discuss the resulting implications and highlight studying input and output market power within an integrated framework as an important next step for future research.

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Offshoring, Domestic Employment and Production. Evidence from the German International Sourcing Survey

Wolfhard Kaus Markus Zimmermann

in: IWH Discussion Papers, Nr. 14, 2022


This paper analyses the effect of offshoring (i.e., the relocation of activities previously performed in-house to foreign countries) on various firm outcomes (domestic employment, production, and productivity). It uses data from the International Sourcing Survey (ISS) 2017 for Germany, linked to other firm level data such as business register and ITGS data. First, we find that offshoring is a rare event: In the sample of firms with 50 or more persons employed, only about 3% of manufacturing firms and 1% of business service firms have performed offshoring in the period 2014-2016. Second, difference-in-differences propensity score matching estimates reveal a negative effect of offshoring on domestic employment and production. Most of this negative effect is not because the offshoring firms shrink, but rather because they don’t grow as fast as the non-offshoring firms. We further decompose the underlying employment dynamics by using direct survey evidence on how many jobs the firms destroyed/created due to offshoring. Moreover, we do not find an effect on labour productivity, since the negative effect on domestic employment and production are more or less of the same size. Third, the German data confirm previous findings for Denmark that offshoring is associated with an increase in the share of ‘produced goods imports’, i.e. offshoring firms increase their imports for the same goods they continue to produce domestically. In contrast, it is not the case that offshoring firms increase the share of intermediate goods imports (a commonly used proxy for offshoring), as defined by the BEC Rev. 5 classification.

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Labour Market Power and Between-Firm Wage (In)Equality

Matthias Mertens

in: IWH Discussion Papers, Nr. 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.

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Intangible Capital and Productivity. Firm-level Evidence from German Manufacturing

Wolfhard Kaus Viktor Slavtchev Markus Zimmermann

in: IWH Discussion Papers, Nr. 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%.

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Import Competition and Firm Productivity: Evidence from German Manufacturing

Richard Bräuer Matthias Mertens Viktor Slavtchev

in: IWH Discussion Papers, Nr. 20, 2019


This study analyses empirically the effects of import competition on firm productivity (TFPQ) using administrative firm-level panel data from German manufacturing. We find that only import competition from high-income countries is associated with positive incentives for firms to invest in productivity improvement, whereas import competition from middle- and low-income countries is not. To rationalise these findings, we further look at the characteristics of imports from the two types of countries and the effects on R&D, employment and sales. We provide evidence that imports from high-income countries are relatively capital-intensive and technologically more sophisticated goods, at which German firms tend to be relatively good. Costly investment in productivity appears feasible reaction to such type of competition and we find no evidence for downscaling. Imports from middle- and low-wage countries are relatively labour-intensive and technologically less sophisticated goods, at which German firms tend to generally be at disadvantage. In this case, there are no incentives to invest in innovation and productivity and firms tend to decline in sales and employment.

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