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Former DIW Berlin President Gert G. Wagner has Passed Away

Press Release of January 30, 2024

Gert G. Wagner passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on January 28, 2024, at the age of 71. He led the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) for many years and later served as the Chairman of the Executive Board (President) of DIW Berlin.

“DIW Berlin owes a great deal to Gert G. Wagner. For over 30 years, he made irreplaceable contributions to the development of the Institute and the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Without him, the Institute and SOEP would not be in such an excellent position,” said current DIW Berlin President Marcel Fratzscher. “On behalf of all current and former DIW Berlin employees, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family. We will honor his memory.”

Mr. Wagner joined DIW Berlin in 1989, taking over leadership of the then-new longitudinal study, the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). “For many years, Gert G. Wagner was the driving force behind SOEP,” said Jürgen Schupp, who took over Mr. Wagner’s position on an interim basis in 2011. “Gert and I had a long, productive, and trusting professional relationship, which began at the University of Frankfurt am Main in the 1980s. The SOEP at DIW Berlin became the largest and clearly the most important scientific project of our careers.”

“Without Gert G. Wagner, DIW Berlin and SOEP would not be in such an excellent position.” Marcel Fratzscher, DIW president

Mr. Wagner persistently expanded SOEP within DIW Berlin, ensured it rapidly adapted to social changes, and saw to excellent national and international networking. “With impressive commitment, he supported the global research landscape as well as knowledge transfer and ensured scientific excellence over many decades,” said Sigrid Nikutta, Chairwoman of the DIW Berlin Board of Trustees. “Thanks to his work, SOEP is now one of the most important social science infrastructures in the world.”

In February 2011, Mr. Wagner took over leadership of DIW Berlin as the Chairman of the Executive Board (President). Mr. Wagner left the Executive Board at the beginning of 2018, but remained associated with the Institute as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow even after his official retirement. From then on, he shifted the focus of his research activities to the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung), where he had been a Max Planck Fellow since 2008.

Mr. Wagner served as Professor of Economics at the Technical University Berlin (TU Berlin) for 16 years until 2018. Before that, he was a Professor at the European University Viadrina (Frankfurt/Oder) and at the Ruhr University Bochum. Mr. Wagner, who was born in Kelsterbach in Hesse, was also a member of numerous committees: Among others, he was Chairman of the Social Advisory Council to the Federal Government, a member of the Rürup Commission, and a member of the Expert Council for Consumer Affairs (Sachverständigenrat für Verbraucherfragen). He was also Chairman of the German Data Forum (RatSWD) and a member of the German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat). Mr. Wagner was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit in 2007 and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2018. On January 8, 2018, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in economics and social sciences (Dr. rer. pol. h.c.) by the Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Cologne.