WIFO Working Papers

Discussion papers by WIFO staff, consultants and guests – As of 2006 available online only – Free download

WIFO Working Papers are not peer reviewed and are not necessarily based on a coordinated position of WIFO. The authors were informed about the Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice of the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity (ÖAWI), in particular with regard to the documentation of all elements necessary for the replicability of the results.

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WIFO Working Papers, 2021, (623), 61 pages
Revised version (March 2021)
Online since: 12.02.2021 14:00
We revisit the impact of rising imports from China on within-firm labour productivity growth in the EU. We analyse the period 2003-2016 which covers the recent increase in technology-intensive imports from China. We uncover a changing relationship over time. Higher fractions of Chinese imports in aggregate imports exert an adverse effect on productivity growth in in later periods, especially after the financial crisis 2008-09. This mirrors the changing nature of trade with China, reversing the growth-enhancing effect of import-competition. This effect is more pronounced for domestic firms, while multinationals are able to benefit from Chinese imports. Both effects become stronger at higher productivity-growth intensities. The growth-dampening effects particularly strong for firms in low-tech industries and in Southern Europe.
Konjunktureinschätzungen hellen sich auf. Ergebnisse des WIFO-Konjunkturtests vom März 2021 (Economic Forecasts Brighten Up. Results of the WIFO-Konjunkturtest (Business Cycle Survey) of March 2021)
WIFO Business Cycle Survey, 2021, (3), 12 pages
Supported by: European Commission, DG Economic and Financial Affairs
Study by: Austrian Institute of Economic Research
Online since: 30.03.2021 14:00
Die Stimmung der österreichischen Unternehmen verbesserte sich im März merklich. Der WIFO-Konjunkturklimaindex notierte mit –3,2 Punkten (saisonbereinigt) nur mehr knapp im negativen Bereich und stieg gegenüber dem Vormonat deutlich an. Die Einschätzungen zur aktuellen Geschäftslage fielen zwar positiver aus, Unternehmen in behördlich stark eingeschränkten Branchen blieben jedoch weiterhin skeptisch. Die Konjunkturaussichten der Unternehmen hellten sich merklich auf und waren erstmals seit Beginn der COVID-19-Pandemie optimistisch.
Beeinträchtigungen der Geschäftstätigkeit, Liquidität und staatliche Hilfen in der zweiten COVID-19-Welle. Ergebnisse der fünften Sonderbefragung zur COVID-19-Krise im Rahmen des WIFO-Konjunkturtests vom Februar 2021 (Business Impairments, Liquidity and State Aid in the Second COVID-19 Wave. Results of the Fifth Special Survey on the COVID-19 Crisis as Part of the WIFO-Konjunkturtest of February 2021)
WIFO-Konjunkturtest Sonderausgabe, 2021, (1), 15 pages
Supported by: European Commission, DG Economic and Financial Affairs
Study by: Austrian Institute of Economic Research
Online since: 19.03.2021 9:00
Laut der Sonderbefragung des WIFO-Konjunkturtests vom Februar waren 72% der befragten Unternehmen in den letzten drei Monaten mit Einschränkungen ihrer Geschäftstätigkeit konfrontiert. Wichtigste Einschränkung war der Entfall von Aufträgen (42%). Unternehmen in direkt von behördlichen Maßnahmen betroffenen Branchen nannten insbesondere die behördlich verfügten Schließungen. Es wurden jedoch auch Engpässe in Lieferketten, Zahlungsverzögerungen, Schwierigkeiten Beschäftigte zu finden und finanzielle Engpässe gemeldet. Die Liquiditätseinschätzungen haben sich im Vergleich zum Spätsommer 2020 zwar nicht dramatisch verschlechtert, jedoch gaben im Februar 19% der Unternehmen an, in eine finanzielle Schieflage zu geraten, sofern die Geschäftslage in den nächsten Monaten nicht über den Erwartungen liegt. Von den Hilfsmaßnahmen wird insbesondere die COVID-19-Kurzarbeit stark genutzt, gefolgt von Steuerstundungen und dem Fixkostenzuschuss (Phase I).
WIFO Working Papers, 2021, (626), 37 pages
Online since: 21.02.2021 9:00
This paper analyses the influence of welfare benefit levels on migrants' location choices within their host country and thus provides a rare empirical test of the Welfare Magnet Hypothesis. In Austria, asylum seekers are distributed across federal states according to a quota, but once they are granted protection, they are free to move wherever they want. Welfare benefit levels for refugees vary over states depending on a person's protection status and – due to a series of welfare benefit reforms at the state level – over time. This institutional structure allows to causally identify the effect of welfare benefit differentials on refugees' first autonomous location choice. We employ two complementary identification strategies, the first is based on variation over states and protection-status groups. The second is based on the welfare reforms at the state level and exploits variation over states, groups and time. The results provide evidence in favour of the Welfare Magnet Hypothesis.
We study the strategic positioning of Austrian manufacturing firms that face competition from emerging markets as opposed to firms that do not. Using a unique sample of large Austrian manufacturing, we find that emerging market competitors are not always a force majeure, but the result of the firms' international activity. Existing strengths and weaknesses are more pronounced when firms face competitors from emerging markets. Emerging market competition is associated with a broader product portfolio and triggers portfolio adjustments. Yet, a larger share of the companies facing emerging market competitors neither adjusts the product portfolio nor plans to develop new competences.
WIFO Working Papers, 2021, (624), 43 pages
Online since: 12.02.2021 14:00
Austria is a small open economy that in the last decades underwent two different waves of increasing trade integration: one with Eastern Europe and one with China. This paper studies the effects of increases in trade with China and Eastern Europe on labour market dynamics in Austrian NUTS-4 regions for two ten-year periods between 1995 and 2015. Given the limited data available, the current analysis could not identify significant effects on aggregate labour dynamics neither for rising imports from Eastern Europe or China, nor for rising exports to Eastern Europe. However, there is weak evidence that exports to China have facilitated employment growth, especially in high quality segments. Overall, these results add a cautious perspective to the discussion of import competition.
This research studies the effect of import competition from China for the period after the financial crisis 2008-09 until 2014. It draws on a unique dataset containing employment information for 248 regions in the EU. The uncovered coefficients are statistically not significant, indicating that Chinese imports were not an important driver of deindustrialisation in Europe in the period analysed. The estimates are imprecise, however. An analysis of the economic importance of the results leads to the conclusion that Chinese import competition was not a primary driving force of European manufacturing employment. Possible explanations for the lack of significant results are discussed.
Konjunktureinschätzungen bleiben skeptisch. Ergebnisse des WIFO-Konjunkturtests vom Februar 2021 (Economic Forecasts Remain Sceptical. Results of the WIFO-Konjunkturtest (Business Cycle Survey) of February 2021)
WIFO Business Cycle Survey, 2021, (2), 13 pages
Supported by: European Commission, DG Economic and Financial Affairs
Study by: Austrian Institute of Economic Research
Online since: 25.02.2021 14:00
Die Stimmung unter den österreichischen Unternehmen bleibt skeptisch. Der WIFO-Konjunkturklimaindex notierte im Februar mit –11,0 Punkten (saisonbereinigt) weiter im negativen Bereich und veränderte sich zum Vormonat kaum. Die Unternehmen blieben in ihren Lagebeurteilungen sehr zurückhaltend. Die Erwartungen stiegen zwar gegenüber dem Vormonat leicht an, verbesserten sich aber nur unwesentlich. Die zweite COVID-19-Welle hält die österreichische Wirtschaft weiter fest im Griff. In Branchen, die direkt oder indirekt stark von behördlichen Einschränkungen betroffen sind, ist die Stimmung schlecht.
WIFO Working Papers, 2021, (621), 22 pages
Online since: 04.02.2021 0:00
While environmental taxes aim at making environmentally harmful behaviour more costly, the opposite is true for environmentally beneficial tax incentives. Tax incentives imply foregone public revenues to favour less polluting consumption and investment activities in order to achieve environmental policy goals. While there is a large body of theoretical literature on environmental taxes and emissions trading, the theoretical literature on environmentally beneficial tax incentives (as well as direct subsidies) is rather slim. Most of the literature in the field of beneficial tax incentives consists of empirical case studies on concrete tax incentives that have been introduced in individual countries. The paper provides a review of theoretical and empirical literature addressing the effects of environmentally beneficial tax incentives. Hereby, the review of empirical evidence on the impact of specific tax incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions focuses on tax incentives in the transport sector and particularly on those attached to vehicle taxation aiming at supporting the decarbonisation of the car fleet. We also summarise the sparse empirical evidence on tax incentives intended to support the use of public transport, green R&D, and energy efficiency.
WIFO Working Papers, 2021, (620), 30 pages
Online since: 20.01.2021 0:00
From Aristotle to Ricardo and Menger, economists have emphasised the function of money as a medium of exchange together with the intrinsic qualities that increase its saleability and credibility as a most liquid store of value. But the social institution of money co-evolves with technology. It is significant that the advent of digital cryptocurrencies was initiated by computer scientists and has taken economists completely by surprise. As a consequence, it also forces our profession to rethink the basic phenomenology of money. In accordance with the views of Wieser and Schumpeter, digitization brings to the fore its immaterial function as a standard of value and social technology of account, which increasingly absorbs that of a medium of exchange. The potential impact on economic policy is huge. The variety of different crypto coins has proven the technical feasibility of competing private currencies as proposed by Hayek. In the long term, however, there is reason to doubt the persistence of intense competition. One must fear that major digital platforms will extend their current dominance in multisided virtual market places to include digital payments and money. Central banks are increasingly anxious to preserve public sovereignty over the common unit of account and consider issuing their own digital fiat money. After the current era of intense creative experimentation, the potentially new spontaneous order of private crypto-currencies is likely to be supplanted by central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), the design of which will depend on deliberate public choices and policies.