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Explaining the low labor productivity in East Germany – A spatial analysis

  • Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola
  • Izem, Rima

This paper sheds light on the transferability of human capital in periods of dramatic structural change by analyzing the unique event of German reunification. We explore whether the comparatively low labor productivity in East Germany after reunification is caused by the depreciation of human capital at reunification, or by unfavorable job characteristics. East German workers should have been hit harder by reunification the more specific human capital was. Treating both human capital and job characteristics as unobservables, we derive their relative importance in explaining the low labor productivity by estimating a spatial structural model that predicts commuting behavior across the former East–West border and the resulting regional unemployment rates. The identification of the model is based on the slope of the unemployment rate across the former border. The results indicate that East and West German skills are very similar, while job characteristics differ significantly between East and West in the sample period 1998–2004. Hence, they suggest that a significant part of the human capital accumulated in the East before 1990 was transferable.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Comparative Economics.

Volume (Year): 40 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-21

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:40:y:2012:i:1:p:1-21
DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2011.09.001
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622864

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