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Fifth Felix Büchel Award 2014

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The Felix Büchel Award is being given for the fifth time this year. Previous awards went to economists, a psychologist, and a political scientist. This year the Award Committee has broadened its horizons and given the award jointly to an eminent sociologist and an eminent footballer.

From left: Bruce Headey, Thomas Klein, Jenny Hunt and Jürgen Schupp: Felix Büchel Award 2014
Photo: Filipp Piontek

Professor Jenny Hunt

This is the year of the World Cup, so we'll start with the footballer. Professor Jenny Hunt of Rutgers University in New Jersey is well remembered here as the best foreign footballer ever to play for the DIW team. In the 1980s, she was known as "The Maradona of the DIW".

Professor Hunt has an interesting background. She was born in Sydney, Australia and moved with her parents to Geneva as a young girl. She completed her secondary education in Switzerland, then took an electrical engineering degree at MIT in the U.S. After graduating in that field, she switched to economics, taking her PhD at Harvard and then becoming an Assistant Professor, later an Associate Professor there. She subsequently moved to the University of Montreal and then to McGill University in Canada. She became Professor of Economics at Rutgers in 2011.

At present she is on leave from Rutgers, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Microeconomic Analysis in the U.S. Treasury. She previously served as Chief Economist to the Secretary of Labor.

Her research has always had a strong policy focus. She has worked on issues relating to immigration, employment and unemployment, wage inequality, transition economics, crime and corruption. In recent times she undertook research on the 2008-09 economic crisis as it affected Germany. She has also studied issues of labor supply in the science and engineering workforce in the U.S. and, related to that, innovation in the U.S. economy.

Professor Hunt was one of the first foreign users of SOEP and began to analyse the data on working time more than twenty years ago. Her publications in top journals, including The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Economica, The Journal of Labor Economics and Brookings Papers on Economic Activity drew the attention of an international audience to some of the perceived successes of German labor market policies.  

Professor Hunt's most recent SOEP-based publication is a written version of her keynote speech to the Verein fuer Socialpolitik annual conference in 2012. The article is entitled, "Flexible work time in Germany: Do workers like it and how have employers exploited it over the cycle?"

She is a distinguished economist and policy practitioner...and a very worthy recipient of the Felix Büchel Award.

Jürgen Schupp and Jenny Hunt: Felix Büchel Award 2014
Photo: Filipp Piontek

Professor Thomas Klein

The eminent co-recipient of the Award is Professor Thomas Klein, who is Professor of Macrosociology and Methods of Empirical Research at the University of Heidelberg. He is also currently Director of the Max Weber Institute for Sociology; a great honour in the year in which the 150th anniversary of Max Weber is being celebrated.

Professor Klein has been involved with SOEP since its very beginning. In the early 1980s he was a member of the German Research Foundation's celebrated Collaborative Research Centre, Sfb3, which was set up to develop "The Microanalytical Foundations of Social Policy", or more informally, to develop a set of valid social indictors for Germany. At the time he was finishing his PhD in economics at the University of Frankfurt, working in the Institute headed by Professor Richard Hauser, who was one of the founders and leaders of Sfb3.

Professor Klein has previously worked at the Universities of Karlsruhe and Konstanz. He took up his current Chair at Heidelberg in 1994.

He has a very wide range of distinguished publications. More than twenty years ago, he wrote one of the first papers in Germany using SOEP data, which analysed the relationship between social status and mortality. He has also written extensively on issues relating to income distribution, education, paid work, health and the family. In recent years, health and the sociology of the family have been his main research interests. One of his most famous papers, co-authored with Hilke Brockman in 2004, is "Love and Death in Germany: The marital biography and its effect on mortality". The paper demonstrates that getting married and staying married increase the survival chances - the longevity - of both men and women, but especially men. Women cope rather better at surviving the health risks associated with separation, divorce, and widowhood.

Altogether Professor Klein has over fifty SOEP-based publications, and of course many top-level non-SOEP publications. He is a very eminent recipient of the Felix Büchel Award.

Thomas Klein: Felix Büchel Award 2014
Photo: Filipp Piontek

Remarks by Bruce Headey (award winner 2012).

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