Mercantilist dualization: the introduction of the euro, redistribution of industry rents, and wage inequality in Germany, 1993–2008

Socio-Economic Review, doi: 10.1093/ser/mwx026
Fabian Ochsenfeld
Reseach Area:
Corporate Finance

The current debate over distributional implications of the crisis-ridden Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is heavily biased toward inter-national accounts. Little attention is paid to who wins and who loses out intra-nationally. I argue that in Germany the EMU has reinforced dualization, the insider–outsider cleavage in the country’s welfare state and production model. To scrutinize this argument, I analyze longitudinal linked employer–employee data (N?>?9.6 mio) and pursue a mechanistic three-step identification strategy: first, I illustrate how the introduction of the euro distorted real interest and exchange rates within the eurozone. Second, I demonstrate how these imbalances redistributed rents from the domestic sector, in particular from construction, to the core manufacturing industry. Third, I show how this shift in industry rents reverberated to the wage distribution and increased inequality. The study contributes to resolve the puzzle why wage inequality in Germany increased through a fanning out of the wage distribution whereas countries similarly exposed to technological change and globalization grew unequal through a polarization of their wage distribution.

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