Eastern Germany on the Brink of Closing the Productivity Gap?: Firm Level Evidence from Manufacturing
B. Görzig, M. Gornig, R. Voshage, A. Werwatz
After 20 years of transition, productivity in Eastern Germany is still considerably below the Western level. We study the development of the East-West productivity gap at the firm level and link it to firms' product policy. Redesigning their product range was a major challenge for Eastern enterprises as they sought their place in the international division of labour. Based on data from manufacturing we apply a non-parametric extension of the widely used Oaxaca-Blinder method to decompose the average East-West productivity difference. By running separate decompositions for modifiers and non-modifiers of the product range we study the impact of product policy on the productivity gap. We find that the time span 1995-2004 has two component periods: a period of adaptation from 1995 to 2001 and a period of branding from 2002 to 2004. The initial period is characterised by a smaller share of Eastern firms that modify their product range and by a large productivity gap between Eastern and Western non-modifiers of comparable size and sector. The evidence for the second period, however, points to a more active and established role of Eastern German manufacturers: more of them alter their product range and step up their productivity performance.