SOEP Awards

Seventh Felix Büchel Award 2018

On July 20, 2018, at the 13th International SOEP User Conference at the BBAW in Berlin, the seventh Felix Büchel Award was awarded to Armin Falk.
Dr. Constantin Terton, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Berlin (IHK Berlin), handed over the prize certificate in the name of the prize sponsor (Society of Friends of the DIW Berlin, VdF).

Falk_SOEP2018.JPGFelix Büchel Award 2018, Photo: C. Kurka
Prof. Dr. Armin Falk, briq - Institute on Behavior and Inequality and Bonn University

The Felix Büchel Award is being given for the seventh time this year. Previous awards went to economists, a psychologist, a political scientist, and a sociologist.
For the first time, the Felix Büchel Award goes to an economist working in the field of experimental economics.

Armin Falk is one of the most successful economists in Germany today. He teaches at the University of Bonn and is the Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for Behavior and Inequality (briq) in Bonn.

He plays a central role in the activities of leading economic research institutes in Germany and internationally, holding lectures at universities like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and the University of Chicago.

He has received numerous prestigious awards including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the Gossen Prize, a Starting Grant of the European Research Council, and the Yrjö Jahnsson Award, considered one of the most important awards for economists in Europe. This year, we are pleased to present him with the most prestigious award in the SOEP community: The Felix Büchell Award.

Armin Falk’s research deals with the psychological foundations of economic behavior. He has shown, for instance, that attempting to monitor and control employees may be less effective than trusting them. He has proven that alongside self-interest, social comparisons are an important aspect of human behavior, and that people reward fairness. In past award presentations, it has been noted that Armin Falk’s findings have significant implications for basic economic research as well as important practical applications. In other words: Armin Falk’s work represents knowledge transfer at its best. His findings aim at improving the explanatory power of economic models and have provided the basis for empirically well-founded economic policy.

In a number of field and laboratory experiments, Armin Falk has tested what motivations drive people’s behavior in different economic situations. In his work, he is not afraid to combine methodologies from life sciences with data from surveys or experiments.


Armin Falk was born fifty years ago in Bergisch Gladbach – so he is still close in age to Felix Büchel when he was publishing some of his most important work.

He has been a dedicated and enthusiastic ambassador for the SOEP for many years. In lectures on a wide array of topics, he never fails to mention the “great longitudinal database SOEP” in Berlin. He has been working with the SOEP around 15 years, and now also has a formal relationship with the SOEP since briq and DIW Berlin are working together on the basis of a cooperation contract to conduct the Bonn Intervention Panel (BIP).

It all started with the inclusion of laboratory experiments in SOEP Pretests and in 2006 in part of the main SOEP survey.

"I still remember visiting Armin’s office at the University of Zürich back in around 2002. On his door, he had hung a historic CDU election poster from the sixties or seventies proclaiming, “Keine Experimente - No experiments!” I immediately liked his sense of humor. And indeed Armin Falk is an extremely likable, interesting, and engaging colleague—very much like Felix Büchel was."

"The paper we coauthored with Thomas Dohmen, David Hufmann, Uwe Sunde and Gert Wagner, entitled “Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants, and behavioral consequences,” went through two rejections by journals where the editors are now hopefully jealous of our high number of citations, and then two tough rounds of revision before the paper was finally being published in the Journal of the European Economic Association in 2011. I remember Armin ranting about our reviewers’ arrogance and conservative attitudes. Our paper was an experimental cross-validation of the now widely used subjective SOEP risk question, and the working paper version of the article had already been published in 2005 as a DIW Discussion Paper. But Armin did not give up, and today, the journal version published in 2011 has almost 700 citations in SSCI journals and 1700 citations in Google Scholar and is among the most widely cited SOEP papers ever, followed by the paper by Winkelmann and Winkelmann with 612 SSCI citations. Incidentally, on google scholar, the unemployment paper by Winkelmann and Winkelmann is still our number 1 SOEP publication, with currently 1805 citations."

In the last few years, the SOEP Innovation Sample has continued Armin Falk’s randomized field experiment with students at middle schools in Cologne and Bonn, as he discussed in his keynote lecture earlier today.

Field experiments like these, using randomized treatment groups and linked to the SOEP, will only increase in the years to come. We are delighted that in Armin Falk, we have one the best in this field as a faithful supporter and reliable advocate for the SOEP.

Preisverleihung_Falk_SOEP2018.JPG From left: Armin Falk and Constantin Terton; Felix Büchel Award 2018 (Photo: C. Kurka)

speech and remarks by Jürgen Schupp (Vice Director of SOEP)