Reports , News of 4 January 2018

Gert G. Wagner celebrates his 65th birthday, leaves position on DIW Berlin's Executive Board

Gert G. Wagner, who served as a member of the German Institute for Economic Research's Executive Board from 2011 to 2017, will celebrate his 65th birthday on January 5. The economist and social scientist was the head of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) research infrastructure at DIW Berlin from 1989 to 2011 and developed it into the largest and longest-running long-term study on social and economic conditions in Germany. Wagner is leaving his position as a member of DIW Berlin's Executive Board in January but will be remaining a Visiting Senior Research Fellow of the institute. He will shift the focus of his future research activities to the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Max-Planck-Institut fuer Bildungsforschung), where he has been a Max Planck Fellow since 2008.

"Gert G. Wagner has been of great service to the SOEP and DIW Berlin," said Axel A. Weber, chairman of DIW Berlin's Board of Trustees. "Together with an outstanding staff, he made the SOEP into the excellent and world-renowned research infrastructure it is today. As a member of DIW Berlin's Executive Board, he was just as successful in taking on a large amount of responsibility for the entire institute."

Wagner stepped down from leading the SOEP in early 2011 to join DIW Berlin's Executive Board. Together with Cornelius Richter and Georg Weizsaecker, Wagner successfully led the institute through its evaluation by the Leibniz Association (Leibniz Gemeinschaft) as the chairperson of the Executive Board ("president"). After Marcel Fratzscher took over the position of president in February 2013, Wagner remained a member of DIW Berlin's Executive Board representing the SOEP. Stefan Liebig, who was named director of the SOEP, took over Wagner's position on the Executive Board effective January 1, 2018.

"Gert G. Wagner not only made a key contribution to DIW Berlin with his work with the SOEP, but he also laid important foundations for DIW Berlin's successful future by emphasizing the institute's scientific focus in 2011 and 2012. I'd like to thank him for our excellent work together over the past five years," said DIW Berlin president Marcel Fratzscher, who noted that, aside from Wagner, "Juergen Schupp also did an excellent job as director of the SOEP and provided new momentum. I'm happy that he will continue to manage the SOEP as vice director and devote more time to his research."

From 1989 to 2011, Gert G. Wagner was head of the SOEP, a long-term study that began in 1983 by the then-president of DIW Berlin, Hans-Juergen Krupp. Wagner and his colleagues developed the SOEP into one of the most important socio-scientific research infrastructures in the world. Immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people from East Germany, as well as those who relocated from East to West Germany and those of German descent from former Eastern Bloc territories who came to Germany in the mid-1990s, could be included in the study. In 2003, Wagner successfully institutionalized the SOEP as a research infrastructure at DIW Berlin. Together with Juergen Schupp, who was the head of the SOEP from 2011 to 2017, Wagner ensured that the SOEP was continuously adapted to social changes, expanded to include psychological issues, and networked excellently, both nationally and internationally. Since 2016, the SOEP has also been collecting a representative sample of data from refugees.

Today, the SOEP enables cutting-edge research that is considering leading worldwide. Wagner's publications emphasize his significance in basic research as well as outreach activities: aside from 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, he has authored over 100 DIW Wochenbericht reports and almost 500 newspaper articles.

"I'm happy to be leaving the SOEP in good hands with sociologist Stefan Liebig. Thanks to Juergen Schupp and his team, the SOEP is as good as ever and extremely well-suited to its role in forming the basis for the sound analysis of many socially, psychologically, and economically important issues," said Wagner. "In times of great uncertainty, science in general and data-based analysis in particular play a key role."

In 1997, Wagner became the first DIW Berlin employee (aside from the president) who, as a jointly appointed professor, also worked closely with a university, the Viadrina European University in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. Since 2002, he has been a professor of empirical economics and economic policy at the Berlin University of Technology (TUB). He is also a Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and a member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (Deutschen Akademie der Technikwissenschaften, acatech).

Additionally, he is chairperson of The German Social Advisory Council (Sozialbeirat) and a member of the German Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs (Sachverstaendigenrates für Verbraucherpolitik). He was previously chairperson of the German Council for Social and Economic Data (Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten) and a member of the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat). In September 2007, Wagner was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

On January 8, 2018, Wagner will be awarded an honorary doctorate degree in social sciences and economics (Dr. rer pol. h.c.) from the Faculty of Management, Economics, and Social Sciences at the University of Cologne. As part of the lecture series "Inequality and Redistribution," Wagner will also present his talk, "Does less inequality cost growth? On the importance of various objectives in the debate on inequality."