Graduate School Microeconomic Determinants of Labor Productivity

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Research Topics

Members of the GRK have no teaching or administrative duties. Their time can be completely devoted to research.

The Research Focus of the GRK 1928

The research program of this Research Training Group is focused on the "microeconomic determinants of labor productivity". Despite what the title might suggest, this is not just a "labor" topic. The questions addressed in this program are relevant for many fields in applied microeconomics and for microeconomic foundations in macroeconomic fields.

The research agenda can be divided into three different parts. In part 1, we want to address the determinants of the quality of labor. The productivity of individuals depends to a large degree on their decisions in areas of education and health, and these decisions are influenced by preferences, by institutions and by infrastructure (among others). Potential dissertations could for example address the interdependence of public health systems, life expectancy, and workers' productivity, or study intertemporal choices in the context of aging. In part 2, our graduate students will work on the role of incentives to improve labor productivity. These incentives include incentives to innovate and improve productivity through innovations, and incentives for promotions that affect labor productivity through an increase in effort. In this area, potential dissertation topics could address the effects of competition on investment in human capital or the optimal design of tournaments. The 3rd part of the research agenda addresses the organization of labor within firms. Projects in this area take the heterogeneity of productivity across individuals as given and analyze how composition effects (selection of firms and/or workers) affect aggregate productivity. Students can address the role of internal labor markets in globally active firms, implications of different kinds of policy measures (industrial policy, social policy, trade policy) for these selection effects, or issues of gender composition in different hierarchical levels of firms. Potential dissertations topics can deal with the effects of redistributive policies on productivity or with the effect of international competition on the matching efficiency of internal labor markets.

In all areas, our graduate students can work on empirical and/or theoretical studies. They will learn to work with different kind of Micro data (process, survey, experimental) and how to address topics of selection and heterogeneity in state-of-the-art theoretical frameworks.

In fact, all these topics are just examples for potential research topics under the umbrella of the GRK. Students are highly encouraged to generate their own research ideas under the guidance of their supervisors.