Explaining Wage Losses after Job Displacement: Employer Size and Lost Firm Rents
Why does job displacement, e.g., following import competition, technological change, or economic downturns, result in permanent wage losses? The job displacement literature is silent on whether wage losses after job displacement are driven by lost firm wage premiums or worker productivity depreciations. We therefore estimate losses in wages and firm wage premiums. Premiums are measured as firm effects from a two-way fixed-effects approach, as described in Abowd, Kramarz, and Margolis (1999). Using German administrative data, we find that wage losses are, on average, fully explained by losses in firm wage premiums and that premium losses are largely permanent. We show that losses in wages and premiums are minor for workers displaced from small plants and strongly increase with pre-displacement firm size, which provides an explanation for the large and persistent wage losses that have been found in previous studies mostly focusing on displacement from large employers.
Plant-level Employment Development before Collective Displacements: Comparing Mass Layoffs, Plant Closures, and Bankruptcies
To assess to what extent collective job displacements can be regarded as unanticipated exogenous shocks for affected employees, we analyze plant-level employment patterns before bankruptcy, plant closure without bankruptcy, and mass layoff. Utilizing administrative data covering all West German private sector plants, we find no systematic employment reductions prior to mass layoffs, a strong and long-lasting reduction prior to closures, and a much shorter shadow of death preceding bankruptcy. Our analysis of worker flows underlines that bankruptcies seem to struggle for survival while closures follow a shrinking strategy. We conclude that the scope of worker anticipation of upcoming job loss is smallest for mass layoffs and largest for closures without bankruptcy.