Georg Weizsäcker

Dear Members of the Verein für Socialpolitik,

Our newsletter is here, informing you of initiatives in our association. First and foremost, let me highlight the annual conference. We will meet in Basel during 11-14 September 2022. Please pause a moment to make sure that you have this date in your calendar! It will be wonderful to see each other in person – the city of Basel and the great conference venues are ideal for this reunion. The core conference topic is timely and should be of interest for all modern economists: Big Data in Economics. The keynote presentations are top-level, too; they will be given by Raj Chetty, Raffaella Sadun, and Michael Lechner. Registration will open later but please make sure to submit a paper for the open meeting, which always has a great set of sessions in all fields of economics. The deadline approaches fast: 01 March, 2022.

In other news, please take a moment to read the contributions by two of my fellow members in the Verein’s executive council. Doris Weichselbaumer, our equal opportunities officer, describes our enlarged code of ethics. Adding to her comments, I want to use the opportunities to thank you all for the very interesting and professional discussion that has led to the final improvement of the code during the fall of 2021. Doris herself deserves a major part of the credit, for her strong behind-the-scenes role in finding appropriate formulations for each point of discussion. Thank you!

Finally, Christian Bayer reports on a most important part of the Verein’s activities: our focus activities on junior career development. You will hear more about this during 2022, as we are preparing a major report. We all look forward to the interactions, on these and other issues, with you all!

Viele Grüße,
Georg Weizsäcker

carreer advancement for women
Doris Weichselbaumer

The Verein für Socialpolitik has a new Code of Ethics

In recent years, leading economic associations such as the American and the European Economic Association have adopted new codes of ethics that uphold values such as equality, diversity and respect for one another. In the Verein für Socialpolitik, too, a working group has developed a proposal for a new Code of Ethics that addresses such aspects. The Extended Board (September 2021) and the General Assembly (December 2021) have approved this draft with some adjustments. The new Code of Ethics is now in effect.

Numerous studies indicate that in Economics, the situation of women and ethnic, sexual, as well as other minorities needs improvement, and not only in terms of their representation at universities (Friebel et al. 2021). A survey by the American Economic Association, for example, found that women and minorities rate the work climate much lower and feel significantly less valued (Allgood et al. 2019). Other empirical studies point to disadvantages for women economists in their professional careers, for example, in getting tenure (Ginther and Kahn 2004, 2014, 2021), in having their research output evaluated (Sarsons 2017) or in the review process (Hengel 2022). Furthermore, female economists receive more inappropriate comments in online forums (Wu 2020) and face more hostile questions in research seminars (Dupas et al. 2021).

The new Code of Ethics of the Verein für Socialpolitik brings us one step closer to our goal of establishing equal treatment in our discipline. It makes us optimistic that further steps will follow at universities and institutions.

Fostering young talents
Christian Bayer

Fostering young academics

For the young economists about to graduate in their PhD studies, the time between October and February is always a time of high tension: Application packages have to be written, interviews have to be prepared, an job talks have to be polished in due time for the academic job market in economics in Europe and overseas. Increasingly so, also the German speaking institutions have coordinated their hiring activities to happen on this centralized market and have adopted their recruiting procedures accordingly. At the same time, this market has undergone substantial changes—not the least because of the global pandemic. Its traditional structures with interviews taking place in overcrowded hotel rooms alongside the ASSA meetings early January seem to be gone for good. They have been largely replaced by zoom calls. Parallel to this the European market organized by the EEA has emerged as an even footed market happening somewhat earlier in December. These innovations create additional uncertainty for the rookies on the market. The VfS did therefore, next to its annual meeting, organize again a job market seminar. Rüdiger Bachmann and me tried our best to answer the many questions the participants had, giving also a general overview over the structure the economics rookie market has. Better market access by reducing informal and informational barriers to entry is important for the young economists but also the field in general.

Another important topic during the last year from the point of view of young academics in the German speaking countries—not only in economics—was the wave of postdocs competing for a tenured position. The issue that was coined the “Hannah problem“ after a derailed informational campaign of the German federal research ministry that went viral. Through a manifold of third-party funded projects the generational turnover in German universities has been promoted with many tenured positions filled earlier. At the same time, these programs increased the number of postdocs, leading to a mismatch of the number of people that come up for tenure and the number of tenured positions today. The VfS takes this problem very seriously and, among other things, has discussed it intensively in its Working Group Career development for young academics in its manifold aspects. We work hard to provide systemic and institutional suggestions to deal with the issue.

VfS Standing Field Committees

In the past year, there have been changes in the chairmanship of several VfS standing field committees. The new chairpersons are:

  • Claus Schnabel – Population Economics
  • Gerhard Minnameier – Economics and Ethics
  • André Schmidt – Economic Systems
  • Robert Schwager – Public Finance
  • Philipp Schmidt-Dengler – Industrial Economics
  • Andreas Pfingsten Theory of the Firm
  • Hendrik Jürges Health Economics

Many thanks to the previous committee chairpersons for their commitment!

New look: The homepages of the VfS committees have been renewed and are gradually appearing in a corporate VfS design. Many thanks to the committee chairs for their active help in redesigning the committee pages.

Corporate Members

Since last year we can welcome new corporate members to the association. We welcome the following members:

  •     Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  •     Hamburg Institute of International Economics
  •     WIFO Austrian Institute of Economic Research

Corporate membership is possible as a major partner institute, as a partner institute and as a supporting institute. Corporate members can register their staff for the VfS Annual Conference at the reduced member price and receive discounted access to the exhibition. Welcome to the VfS!

An overview of the corporate members of the association can be found here.

Corporate Members

VfS Annual Conference
JT 2022

VfS Annual Conference: Big Data in Economics

The annual conference will be held at the Basel University (September 11-14, 2022).

The Annual Conference of the Verein fuer Socialpolitik consists of an Open Meeting with mixed topics and of a core conference with invited lectures concerning Big Data in Economics. Presentations and Organised Sessions for the Open Meeting may be submitted from all fields of economics.

The core conference is on Big Data in Economics:
The availability of massive datasets on economic choices of individuals and firms, from administrative and corporate sources, changes empirical research in the social sciences fundamentally.

Economists and statisticians develop new methods that provide new answers to old-standing empirical questions and allow for much faster and granular research. At the same time, new data and methods also change the way administrations and firms work, which creates new and challenging questions for public policy.

The keynote lectures shed light on various aspects of using big data in economics research. Raj Chetty (Harvard University) explains how administrative data such as tax filings can be used to understand the heterogeneous effects of macroeconomic shocks and public policies on individuals and to construct real-time diagnostics of the economy. Raffaella Sadun (Harvard Business School) focuses on how managers use the large amounts of data their firms generate in such areas as human resource management. Michael Lechner (University of St. Gallen) explores research opportunities that arise from combining machine-learning methods with large administrative datasets to identify the causal effects of public policies. A panel discussion will review opportunities and challenges of using big data in economic research in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

  • Core Conference Organisation: Joachim Winter (LMU Munich)
  • Local Organisation: Stefan Felder (Basel University)
  • Open Meeting Organisation: Thomas Siedler (Potsdam University)

We look forward to welcoming you to the Basel University.

Awards 2021

Reinhard Selten Award

During the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Verein für Socialpolitik, Alina Kristin Bartscher was awarded the Reinhard Selten Prize (Young Author Best Paper Award) of the year 2021. Almuth Scholl (Head of the Program Commission 2021) praised the paper of the awardee as outstanding during the virtual meeting of the Association.

It Takes Two to Borrow: The Effects of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act on Homeownership and Mortgage Debt of Married Couples

In the U.S., until the 1970s, it was common to substantially discount the wife’s income in married couples’ mortgage applications. In 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed that prohibited such type of gender discrimination. In her paper, Alina Kristin Bartscher employs this legislative change as a natural experiment to assess the economic importance of income-related credit constraints. In a convincing empirical and theoretical analysis, she shows that the relaxed credit constraints had a significant positive impact on the homeownership rate and female labor supply. The paper is an outstanding contribution and provides important insights on a question of great economic and social relevance.

Every year at its Annual Meeting, the Verein für Socialpolitik awards the Reinhard Selten Prize (Young Author Best Paper Award), worth €3,000, for papers that stand out in particular for their originality, significance of the research question and clean methodology. The award is named after Reinhard Selten, the only German-speaking Nobel laureate in economics, who was honored for his work in the field of game theory - in particular his development of the concepts of subgame perfection and the “trembling”-hand perfect equilibrium.

Fore more information, please click here.

Hermann Heinrich Gossen Award

The Hermann Heinrich Gossen Prize of the year 2021 was awarded to Florian Scheuer (University of Zurich).

„In one sentence, Florian is the perfect example of a highly educated, well travelled, wonderfully connected international scholar who returns to his roots and passes on his wisdom“, said Georg Weizsäcker (VfS Chairman) in his statement.

Florian Scheuer studied economics at the University of Konstanz and then went to MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to complete his Ph.D. He completed his Ph.D. in 2010 and joined the Economics Department at Stanford University as an Assistant Professor. In addition to teaching and research, Florian Scheuer has since taken on numerous other tasks in the professional community, in particular as a peer reviewer and member of important professional committees. Since 2016, Florian Scheuer has been a professor at the University of Zurich.

His research focuses on tax theory and related areas of finance and applied microeconomics. Mostly, his approach is characterized by a methodological mix of theory and empirics. In terms of content, he has repeatedly made very important contributions to a topic that has long preoccupied economics: Inequality. In several articles, Florian Scheuer examines how tax revenues respond to various taxes, emphasizing again and again that these responses differ greatly by type of income and wealth, and likewise by whether the taxed individuals can choose this type of income and wealth themselves. The outstanding professional quality of Florian Scheuer’s work can easily be seen from the fact that he has published in almost all leading journals: among others, American Economic Review, Review of Economic Studies, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Journal of Political Economy. The funding of his current research by an ERC Starting Grant is also evidence of the high professional recognition Florian Scheuer receives.

For more information, please click here.

Gustav Stolper Award

During the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Verein für Socialpolitik, Lars P. Feld (Freiburg University) was awarded the Gustav Stolper Prize.

“The Stolper Award is given once every year, to an outstanding scientists who has employed economic research to influence the public debate on economic issues and problems, and has made ​​important contributions to understanding and solving contemporary economic problems“, said Georg Weizsäcker (VfS Chairman) in his statement.

Lars Feld, a long-standing member of the German Council of Economic Experts - and its chairman for one year - will be awarded the Gustav Stolper Prize at this year’s online conference of the Verein für Socialpolitik.

The Gustav Stolper Award is awarded to outstanding scientists who have employed the findings of economic research to influence the public debate on economic issues and problems, and have made ​​important contributions to understanding and solving contemporary economic problems.

Lars Feld’s education took place in Saarbrücken as well as in St. Gallen. After graduating from the University of Saarland, he moved to Switzerland, where he completed his doctorate and habilitation. After professorships in Marburg and Heidelberg, he has held the chair of economic policy and regulatory economics in Freiburg since 2010 and has since also headed the Walter Eucken Institute as its director.

In his research, Feld also focuses on economic policy, with a particular focus on government finance, as well as on the disciplines of political economy and the economic analysis of law. He deals comprehensively and extensively with the role of the state in economic life and is one of the leading and most sought-after experts in this field.

Lars Feld gained particular prominence through his extensive policy advice. As a long-standing member, he helped shape the work of many influential bodies, including the German Council of Economic Experts (Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung) and the Scientific Advisory Council of the German Federal Ministry of Finance. In debates on public finances, he has always been an important advisor to the public and politicians. His advocacy of the debt ceiling for public budgets is particularly well received. In his pronouncements on current policy issues, a strikingly strong connection to Lars Feld’s own research is evident. His long list of publications includes well-received contributions on tax honesty and on the correlates of government deficits and economic growth. A particular focus of his research is on the democratic legitimacy of taxation. In particular, Lars Feld identified many empirical relationships between government debt and political economy variables.

Also in the context of his roles as institute director, lecturer and colleague, one finds in Lars Feld’s work many excellent examples of the successful combination of research and policy advice.  He eloquently shares his political economy thinking and knowledge with students, colleagues, policymakers, and the public.

For more information on the Gustav Stolper Award, please click here.

Association journals

Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik

Dear readers,

Once again this year, you can look forward to four most interesting issues of our “Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik“. In the next issue, you will find, among other things, an article by our colleague C. Katharina Spieß (Wiesbaden) on “Daycare Economics - A Perspective for Germany“. The essay offers an overview of empirical work with an economic perspective on day care in Germany. In addition, Karen Horn talked with Regina Riphahn (Nuremberg) about how to improve data availability for science in Germany, why this is so much worse in Germany than in some other countries, and why this is a problem with regard to evidence-based policy. Furthermore, the interview includes a discussion on unintended disincentives and displacement effects emanating from mini- and midi-jobs, for example with regard to the employment of women. The Thünen Lecture 2021 by Michèle Tertilt (Mannheim) is also included in the next issue, analyzing at how Covid-19 has influenced the labour market behaviour of women and men. Finally, a research contribution deals with the acceptance of CO2 prices. You can look forward to an issue worth reading!

We are aware that many of you received last year’s “Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik“ too late in your mailbox. The publisher had considerable problems with the delivery of the issues that had been printed long ago. This also annoyed us quite a bit as editors. We have discussed this with the publisher, who has vowed to do better for 2022. In any case, you can also find out more quickly online about new articles and new issues of PWP and read them even before they are printed. In addition, you can follow PWP on Twitter: @PerspektivenWP.  We will inform you there immediately about the appearance of new contributions.

Enjoy reading!

Justus Haucap

German Economic Review

Dear readers,

The German Economic Review transitioned to the DeGruyter publishing house in 2020. With this change, the journal was able to participate in the new publisher’s Editor’s Choice program. The latter releases one article per issue for free access. In 2021, the following articles were selected:

  1. Amann and Felder (2021), “Survival of Altruistic Gatekeepers: Kickbacks in Medical Markets”
  2. Riedel, Simmler, and Wittrock (2021), “Do Political Parties Matter? - Evidence from German Municipalities”
  3. Krenz and Strulik (2021), “The Benefits of Remoteness - Digital Mobility Data, Regional Road Infrastructure, and COVID-19 Infections”
  4. Felbermayr, Hinz, and Chowdhry (2021), “Après-ski: The Spread of Coronavirus from Ischgl through Germany”

Hence, in the light of the demands both academia and policy making were faced with under the Covid-19 pandemic, a particular emphasis was placed on articles with a related focus. Moreover, the journal had published articles related to data providers from Germany whose work enables particularly important platform effects for researchers with an empirical focus from all over the world.

With kind regards,

Peter Egger

Dates and Press
VfS Board Elections

VfS Elections 2022

Elections will take place again this year in the Verein für Socialpolitik. The terms of office of the current chair Georg Weizsäcker, his deputy Caren Sureth-Sloane, the treasurer Friedrich Breyer and the secretary Philipp Schmidt-Dengler will expire at the end of the year. The designated chairperson Regina Riphahn will become chairperson of the association for two years starting next year.

There will be a total of eight vacancies on the Executive Council. Two cash auditors are also up for election.

We would be very pleased if you would take part in the election. We will inform you in good time before the elections begin.


Baccalaureate Award in Economics

This year, for the sixth time, the VfS Baccalaureate Prize is awarded to students who have achieved an outstanding performance in the field of economics. It may have been achieved in economics or in a composite subject such as economics/politics, economics/work/technology or social sciences.

Last year, we were able to set a record with 450 students receiving awards. The students came from all over Germany. The winners received a certificate, a book prize and a VfS trial membership. We are very happy about the positive response and would like to thank the Joachim Herz Foundation for its financial support over the years.


VfS Conference Subsidy Programme

Due to the unfortunately still ongoing corona crisis, many attendance conferences had to be cancelled or postponed last year. However, participation in numerous virtual conferences was also possible for our conference subsidy programme. With this programme, the Verein für Socialpolitik promotes the international presence of young academics with a premium of € 500 for presentations at prestigious international conferences. The prerequisite for an application is a reduced association membership. The subsidies are financed by donations provided by the Deutsche Bundesbank and the Swiss National Bank.

The VfS Conference Subsidy Programme is entering a new round this year. We will keep you up to date on our homepage.


We would like to thank all members of the association who have been loyal to us for years or who have recently joined the association. Please feel free to contact the VfS office at any time with questions or suggestions and stay healthy.