skip to content

Institute for Economic Policy (iwp)

The Institute

The Institute for Economic Policy at the University of Cologne (iwp) is a non-profit, independent research institute. The institute's primary activity is the investigation of current fundamental problems in the field of economic policy. Particular attention is paid to regulatory issues and the institutional framework necessary for a functioning social market economy.

The institute's work aims to use the current state of the art in science to develop practical policy recommendations, to translate scientific findings for public debate, to develop concrete answers to social challenges, and to identify viable economic policy options for mastering these challenges.

The Institute for Economic Policy was founded in 1950 as an independent economic research institute at the University of Cologne. From the very beginning, the Institute's task was to build bridges between academic economics and practical economic policy. As a matter of principle, the Institute does not conduct commercial contract research in the interest of individual donors and reserves the full right to freely publish the results of any research funding.

The thematic focus of the practical research projects changes with the pressing issues of the time. In recent years, the majority of research work has been devoted to topics in the areas of the labour market, digitisation, social security and social minimum security.

The scientific and organisational management is currently carried out by the directors Prof. Michael Krause, Ph.D., and Prof. Dr Steffen J. Roth. A non-profit association of sponsors supports the work of the institute. Institutional members include the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Trade as well as many associations and individual companies in the insurance, housing and health care industries. The institute cooperates with many other scientists in research projects and events, especially of course with colleagues from the Cologne faculty and their research assistants.

Research, Policy advice and public Discourse

The iwp is a member of the Working Group of Economic Research Institutes of the BMWI (ARGE) and represents the smaller institutes on its board. The directors of the institute are involved in various working and advisory groups. Within the faculty, the iwp is linked in particular with the chairs of economics. Besides, it cooperates closely with the Institute for Labour and Business Law and the European Centre for Liberal Professions of the Faculty of Law.

Current examples of practical policy advice and direct exchange with economic policy practitioners include participation in the Enquete Commission "Digital Transformation of the World of Work" of the North Rhine-Westphalian State Parliament, occupation with comparison platforms on the Internet and their incentives to use consumer data in cooperation with the consumer advice centres, as well as the empirical assessment of the housing market impact of short-term rental offers on digital platforms such as Airbnb in cooperation with the City of Cologne.

Economic policy research is first and foremost in the service of society. For this reason, the exchange with the public and participation in the public debate are of great importance and, along with research and policy advice, shape the iwp's self-image. This is expressed, for example, in the publication of the "Kölner Impulse zur Wirtschaftspolitik" (Cologne Impulses on Economic Policy), which is intended for a broad public, and the "Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik" (Journal of Economic Policy), which has been established for around 70 years as an interface between academic economists and economic policy decision-makers in ministries, authorities and associations. Regular public events such as the discussions between academia and practice in the "Cologne Economic Policy Dialogue" series, the annual presentation and discussion of the annual report of the German Council of Economic Experts by a member of the SVR and the Institute's annual public lecture series are just as popular as the events organised by the Institute with a more specific target audience, such as further training for teachers or the so-called KinderUni.

For its approach and its success in open discourse with society and in dealing with concrete, practically relevant economic policy proposals, the Institute was officially awarded the title of "Place of Progress" by the State Ministry of Economics and Science in 2014.

Institute History

The founding director of the institute was Prof. Dr Dr. h.c. Alfred Müller-Armack, the intellectual father of the social market economy. The circle of sponsors of the institute was founded by Dr. h.c. Franz Greiß, the long-standing president of the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The Institute also administers the scientific estate of Wilhelm Röpke, another important pioneer of the social market economy. To give concrete shape to the "open system" (Müller-Armack) of our economic order, it has always been necessary to look beyond the boundaries of one's own discipline, to seek an inter- and transdisciplinary exchange of ideas, to consider ethical aspects "beyond supply and demand" (Röpke) and to deal with the normative foundations of economic policy recommendations in an intersubjectively comprehensible manner. The current slogan of the Cologne WiSo Faculty "Today's ideas. Tomorrow's impact" can hardly be lived more seriously than in the participation in the economic order.

The predecessors of the current directors in the management of the institute were Prof. Dr Alfred Müller-Armack, Prof. Dr Hans Willgerodt, Prof. Dr Christian Watrin, Prof. Dr Juergen B. Donges, Prof. Dr Johann Eekhoff, Prof. Achim Wambach, Ph.D., and Prof. Dr Felix Höffler.