Institute of Economics

This is what most of us do: Applied economic policy research using of insights from behavioural economics and the economics of governance. Hence our master program Economic Behaviour and Governance (EB&Go). Please click for further information! (Interested in Nachhaltiges Wirtschaften? This way.)


Face Mask Study now published in PNAS

December 4, 2020. Update to the entry from June 10: The paper Face masks considerably reduce COVID-19 cases in Germany, co-authored by Reinhold Kosfeld, has now been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, one of the top three multidisciplinary scientific journals. Congratulations! Just click on the paper's title above, it is an open access article. Supplementary information is available here, the dataset also here.

“Solarcampus” wins Hessian Teaching Award

July 8, 2020. The course Solarcampus has been awarded the “Hessischer Hochschulpreis für Exzellenz in der Lehre” (Hessian University Award for Excellence in Teaching). The Minister of Science, Angela Dorn, presented the 1st prize, worth 60.000 Euros, on 2nd July 2020 in Wiesbaden.

Solarcampus has been organized at the University of Kassel for 30 semesters. The idea of this special course is to let the students work like an engineering office, which helps local organizations and practitioners to become more sustainable and energy efficient. Highlights of the course include collaborations with the prison in Kassel and the cinema group Filmladen Kassel e.V.

The award was granted to Prof. Dr. Klaus Vajen, Dominik Ritter and Dieter Kreibaum from the Department of Solar and Systems Engineering, Prof. Dr. Astrid Dannenberg from the Department of Environmental and Behavioral Economics and Prof. Dr. Heike Wetzel and Victor von Loessl from the Department of Energy Economics.

Link to the press release (in German)

Joint Research by Economists from Kassel, Darmstadt, Mainz and Odense: Face Masks Considerably Reduce Covid-19 Cases

June 10, 2020 - As a member of a team of eminent researchers, Reinhold Kosfeld, econometrician at the Institut of Economics, contributed to a study that currently receives a lot of public attention. The researchers make use of the regional variation in the point in time when face masks became compulsory. In the ten days thereafter, the cumulative number of registered Covid-19 cases was lower than it would have been without compulsory masks - between 2.3% and 13%, depending on region. Furthermore, face masks reduce the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 40%. The study (in English) is available for download here, the authors' account of the main results and methods in German is here.

The Olympic Games 2020...

April 28, 2020
... and the 7th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences both had to be postponed to 2021. It is hard work to qualify for either event, and the Institute of Economics is proud to announce that Sonja Zitzelsberger has been nominated for the latter. She is one of 373 international young scientists from 60 countries who can discuss their current research with the Nobel Laureates. The Lindau meeting is held every three years. (Unless there is a pandemic, of course.) Congratulations to Sonja Zitzelsberger!
(Foto: Universität Kassel)


October 2019 - As we feel obliged to focus strictly on news from our department, we usually have to fight against our desire to place a really cute animal picture on this site. Not so now! We are very happy to report that Astrid Dannenberg and Sonja Zitzelsberger have published an article in the recent issue of Nature Climate Change. Congratulations! Click here to read their paper "Climate experts’ views on geoengineering depend on their beliefs about climate change impacts".

March 13 - Another publication in the European Economic Review coauthored by a member of our institute; this time the congratulations go to Martin Kesternich, the youngest professor in the Institute of Economics.
From the abstract: "In a large-scale field experiment, we analyze more than 10000 contribution decisions to a carbon offsetting program in the context of online ticket sales for long-distance buses. We find that the simple requirement of an Active Choice –which circumvents the ethical issues posed by an opt-out design –not only increases participation rates by almost 50% in a first booking decision, but also boosts participation in subsequent bookings." To read on, click here for the working paper version of the article, which was written as part of the VolFair project.

Für Leser

March 5, 2019 - Björn Frank's "Zu Keynes passt das nicht" is one of the five books that Deutschlandradio Kultur has chosen for its best-of list "Die besten Bücher für den Frühling".

"Environmental and Resource Economics" Workshop for Young Researchers at our University

February 19&20 - The chair of Environmental and Behavioral Economics (Professor Dannenberg) and the chair of Empirical Economics Research (Professor Ziegler) host this year’s workshop for young researchers "Environmental and Resource Economics" of the "Ausschuss für Umwelt- und Ressourcenökonomik (AURÖ) im Verein für Socialpolitik". The workshop takes place at the Campus Center, and the keynotes of the workshop are open to everyone interested.

July 9, 2018 - Nature Human Behaviour has published a special issue: "Focus on Cooperation". Congratulations to Astrid Dannenberg for her contribution to this issue (co-authored with Scott Barrett) entitled "Cooperating to avoid catastrophe", very readable also for non-specialists interested in environmental economics.

DAAD Award goes to Amantia Simixhiu

February 19, 2018 - Once a year, the DAAD Award, which includes a prize money of EUR 1,000, is granted to an international student or PhD candidate at the University of Kassel for outstanding performances. It is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The 2017 Award went to Amantia Simixhiu, recognizing her exceptional academic performance as well as her social and intercultural commitment.

Amantia Simixhiu obtained her Bachelor's Degree at the University of Tirana and started to study for the Master's Degree in Economic Behavior and Governance at the University of Kassel in 2014. She is student research assistant at the Chair of Empirical Economic Research (Professor Ziegler) and is very active in the student community, as well as volunteering, for example, in supporting underage refugees.

(German press release here.)


And here is the next award...

On June 13th, Philipp Kirchner received the student best paper award at the "15th INFINITI Conference on International Finance" in Valencia. The prize-winning paper, co-authored by Benjamin Schwanebeck, is entitled "Optimal Unconventional Monetary Policy in the Face of Shadow Banking".


On April 28, Benjamin Schwanebeck received the best paper award at the 1st International Conference on Finance and Economic Policy (ICOFEP) in Poznań. The prize-winning paper, co-authored by Jakob Palek, is entitled "Optimal Monetary and Macroprudential Policy in a Currency Union".


On May 19th, the chair of Public Economics is hosting the Public Finance Workshop 2017. Have a look at the programme here, and contact the organizer if you would like to take part.



"Social norms as solutions", co-authored by Astrid Dannenberg, has been published in the Policy Forum of Science.
Here is the abstract:
"Climate change, biodiversity loss, antibiotic resistance, and other global challenges pose major collective action problems: A group benefits from a certain action, but no individual has sufficient incentive to act alone. Formal institutions, e.g., laws and treaties, have helped address issues like ozone depletion, lead pollution, and acid rain. However, formal institutions are not always able to enforce collectively desirable outcomes. In such cases, informal institutions, such as social norms, can be important. If conditions are right, policy can support social norm changes, helping address even global problems. To judge when this is realistic, and what role policy can play, we discuss three crucial questions: Is a tipping point likely to exist, such that vicious cycles of socially damaging behavior can potentially be turned into virtuous ones? Can policy create tipping points where none exist? Can policy push the system past the tipping point?"

A more extensive and very nice summary has been published by

New Science Slam contribution from our Institute

With her 10 minutes talk on "Side-effects of Stolen Cake - Experimental Evidence" (in German), Elina Khachatryan was invited to various Science Slams throughout the republic. A video from Cologne is now online here. A discussion paper on the underlying research (in English) by Christoph Bühren and Elina is forthcoming soon.

Now in the portrait in questionnaires

Astrid Dannenberg



Folien zum Vortrag "Flüchtlinge willkommen!?" von Professor Bonin...

Refugees Welcome? Public Talk on the Migrant Crisis and the Economy

The mass migration of refugees dominates German politics. It also causes widespread anxiety among German citizens. Can the German economy handle the large-scale immigration? Will we have to raise taxes, and will unemployment rates surge? What needs to be done to integrate the refugees into the labor market and the German society?

These questions will be discussed in a talk by Holger Bonin, professor of economics at our department. Professor Bonin, who also leads the labor market research at ZEW Mannhein, is one of Germany's best known experts on immigration policy. The talk (in German language) will take place on Wednesday, November 11, in Lecture Hall 4 of the new HCC building (Moritzstrasse 18). It will start at 6 pm and is open to the public.

Great scores for Holger Bonin in FAZ economist ranking

FAZ media citation ranking (excerpt)

(September 5)

Our colleague at the Department of Economics, Holger Bonin, has been recognized as one of Germany’s influential economists. Professor Bonin was ranked number 30 in the latest edition of the annual economist ranking published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, with an even better result in the sub-ranking based on media recognition (where he outperformed Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek and almost matched the score of John Maynard Keynes). Holger Bonin teaches Labor Economics and Social Policy at the Department of Economics. He also leads the Research Department for Labour Markets, Human Resources and Social Policy at the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim.

Elina Khachatryan co-authored an experimental paper that has now been published in the European Economic Review. Congratulations!

Behavioral Economics Guide 2015 published

(June 23)

The Behavioral Economics Guide 2015 has just been published; it is for download here. Highly recommended! To name just one nice feature, this year's edition has links to all TED Talks on Behavioral Science.

And again, the guide lists "Postgraduate Programs in Behavioral Economics and Behavioral/Decision Science (Taught in English)". The University of Kassel's Economic Behaviour and Governance is still the only master program in Germany!

Quote of the semester

"If you’re not overprepared you’re underprepared."
Geoff Dyer

Holger Bonin appointed member of equal opportunities commission

(May 29) Prof. Dr. Holger Bonin, der am IVWL das Fachgebiet Arbeitsmärkte und Sozialpolitik vertritt, wurde zum Mitglied der Sachverständigenkommission für den 2. Gleichstellungsbericht der Bundesregierung ernannt.

"Die Sachverständigen sollen bei ihrer Arbeit der Frage nachgehen, welche konkreten politischen Schritte es Frauen und Männern ermöglichen, sich in der Arbeitswelt und in der Familie tatsächlich auf Augenhöhe zu begegnen. Berufseinstieg, Berufskarriere, Familiengründung und familiäre Pflege sind gleichstellungspolitisch bedeutende Schlüsselstellen, die besonders betrachtet werden sollen." (Pressemitteilung des Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend)

(Abbildung: Aus dem 1. Gleichstellungsbericht)



Last time our institute held a meeting, we caught a photographer in a trap and now look down on him gleefully.



Workshop am 22. April


Informationen zum Workshop

"Varoufakis' Kritik der neoklassischen
Orthodoxie in Forschung und Lehre"

gibt es hier!

(November 6) The program of our (almost) weekly research seminar is now online!

(October 14) Of our three new professors, the first one whose new homepage is built (although still incomplete) is Christian Schubert. He kindly answered the same questions as his colleagues at the Institute of Economics did before (see here). 

Your career aspirations as a first-semester student?

Recommended book?
   I recently finished Herfried Münkler's fascinating "Der grosse Krieg" (an english version is certainly out soon); fiction: Wolfgang Herrndorf, "Tschick"; economics: Dan Ariely, "Predictably Irrational".
What do you think annoys students most about your courses?
   My recommended literature. And I often speak too fast.
Which fact about you could surprise students?
   Having grown up in Barcelona in the 1970s, I then spoke Spanish and Catalan fluently. Among the only remains is my expressive "R". That's where it's from (and I seem unable to change it).
A research question you are currently working on?
   What are the welfare and practical policy implications of Behavioral Economics? (and relatedly:  does Behavioral Economics affect the role of ethics in economic theorizing?)
Would you like to be the minister for economic affairs? Why (not)?
   Of course not. It looks like a job with a low relevance/show-off ratio. And I hate those talk shows.
Why are the business studies professors so likeable?
   Define "likeable".

(October 1st) Three New Professors at the Institute

Also starting on October first: Christian Schubert, guest professorship Ethics&Economics. Welcome! We will provide links to the new chairs' homepages as soon as they are available.

The Behavioral Economics Guide 2014

(August 19) At, the enormously helpful Behavioral Economics Guide 2014 is available for download. The editor Alain Samson has contributed a well-written 12 page introduction to behavioral economics plus a useful collection of "Selected Behavioral Economics Concepts" from affect heuristic to zero price effect. Among the many other interesting things to be found in those 130 pages, there is a list of Postgraduate Programs in Behavioral Economics and Behavioral/Decision Science (taught in English). According to this list, there are three PhD programs in German speaking countries (Bonn, Zurich and the Max Planck Research School, Berlin) and only one Master program, which is our Master program in Economic Behaviour and Governance (EB&Go).

More sports news

(June 28) The "invisible hand" is a metaphor of declining reputation, with columnists claiming that "The Invisible Hand is Dead" (David Sloan Wilson in Huffington Post) or that "There is no invisible hand" (Joseph Stiglitz in The Guardian). Nevertheless, last Wednesday the Invisible Hands won the University's tennis doubles tournament. The photograph of the winner certificate does not reveal the players' names, but it was taken strikingly close to the office doors of Christoph Bühren and Björn Frank.

In the long run

(May 5) Yesterday the Kassel Marathon 2014 took place. Unfortunately, there was no award for the wittiest team name, otherwise "In the long run we are all dead" probably would have won. Anyway, Dominik Heinisch, Andreas Rehs, Johannes König and Guido Bünstorf (left to right), representing the Economic Policy Research Group, survived the long run, finishing the Marathon Team relay in a good time (3:54:59), even though they were apparently unable to agree on team colors. Congratulations!

Time to say goodbye

(April 15) Martin Binder left the institute for the Bard College Berlin. Good luck! We are indebted to Martin Binder that he still teaches a seminar in this summer term, see here for further information. Of course we hope that our institute will remain a career springboard for young researchers. It is not easy to find adequate replacement for Martin Binder, but we believe we succeeded: From next winter term on, Christian Schubert will join us for a couple of semesters.

P.S.: Martin Binder's portrait was drawn by the multi-talented Viktoria Gochmann, who also teaches psychology in the team of Professor Ohly. Her drawings of the other economics professors are to be found in the new edition of "wiwi aktuell".

Energy Transition

(March 19) German professors can choose their research topics as they please. A wonderful priviledge. On one occasion, however, we have to convince others first: When research projects are so big that we have to apply for external funding. Some of our institute's professors were quite sucessful recently in securing third party funding for research staff. For example, the chair of Professor Andreas Ziegler (Empirical Economic Research) currently participates in two projects within the framework of the research program "Environmentally friendly and socially acceptable transformation of the energy system", funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF):
For a brief description of the project “Socio-political Impact of the German Energy Transition" in English see here, for the German web page here.
The other large project is “The Energy Policy Turnaround Caught Between Regionalisation and Centralisation” (English summary, web page).

Dr. Sven Rudolph appointed Professor at Kyoto University

(February 10, 2014) Dr. Sven Rudolph has just been appointed Associate Professor for Modern Economics in English at Kyoto University, Japan. Dr Rudolph has been a member of our faculty since 2004. He has done research on the political economy of market-based environmental policy instruments and has given courses on environmental economics and political economy. We wish Dr. Rudolph all the best for his new post in Japan and look forward to many fruitful joint projects in the future

Dr. Korbinian von Blanckenburg appointed professor at the University of Applied Sciences

(November 18, 2013) Our visiting lecturer Dr. Korbinian von Blanckenburg has been appointed professor at the University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe) in Lemgo (press release). Congratulations! For the last three semesters, he has given courses in competition policy at the University of Kassel, and we look forward to further cooperation.

New Professor at the Institute

(October 2013) Welcome Professor Martin Binder! Formerly at the University of Sussex, he joins our institute as a guest professor and holds the chair of Normative Economics and Business Ethics. For an overview of his research in the areas subjective well-being, welfare economics, behavioral economics and methodology, please click here

Folk Economics

(July 2, 2013) First Kassel Workshop on Folk Economics: Program