Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 906: Private Equity, Layoffs, and Job Polarization

Martin Olsson () and Joacim Tåg ()
Additional contact information
Martin Olsson: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and Stockholm University
Joacim Tåg: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: P.O. Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Private equity firms are often criticized for laying off workers, but the evidence on who loses their jobs and why is scarce. This paper argues that explanations for job polarization also explain layoffs after private equity buyouts. Buyouts reduce agency problems, which triggers automation and offshoring. Using rich employer-employee data, we show that buyouts generally do not affect unemployment incidence. However, unemployment incidence doubles for workers in less productive firms who perform routine or offshorable job tasks. Job polarization is also much more marked among workers affected by buyouts than for the economy at large.

Keywords: Automation; Employment; Globalization; Job polarization; Private equity buyouts; Leveraged buyouts; Offshoring; Restructuring; Task-Biased technological Change; Unemployment

JEL-codes: G32; G34; J50; J60; M51

29 pages, First version: March 26, 2012. Revised: May 1, 2016. Earlier revisions: May 1, 2016.

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