Kiel Institute for the World Economy

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Kiel Institute for the World Economy
Kiel Institute for the World Economy (logo).png
Established 1914
President Dennis J. Snower
Academic staff
approx. 160
Location Kiel, Germany
The Kiel Institute building

The Kiel Institute for the World Economy (Institut für Weltwirtschaft, IfW) is an economics research center and a think tank that is located in Kiel, Germany. In 2013, it was ranked as one of the top 20 research centers in the world for International Trade[1] and one of the top four think tanks in the world for economic policy.[2] With more than four million publications in printed or electronic format and subscriptions to 31,970 periodicals and journals, the Institute has the world's largest specialist library for economics.[3] It is affiliated with the University of Kiel where it cooperates closely with the Department of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences. It is nevertheless legally and academically independent of the University of Kiel. Since 1 January 2007, it has been an independent, nonprofit organization (foundation under public law). It is a member of an association of research institutions, museums, and service centers called the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Scientific Community or Leibniz Association and is ranked as one of the top six leading economics research institutions in the Leibniz Association. Like all the institutions that are members of the Leibniz Association, it is funded 50% by the German federal government and 50% by the German states. It employs approximately 160 people, of whom more than 80 are economists. It is headed by a president, currently Dennis J. Snower.


The Kiel Institute was founded under the name of Königliches Institut für Seeverkehr and Weltwirtschaft an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (Royal Institute for Maritime Transport and World Economics at the University of Kiel) on 18 February 1914, and opened two days later at the address Schlossgarten 14. With the help of its Sponsors' Association, it was to acquire new premises in 1919, a hotel called the Seebadeanstalt, which was owned by the Krupp family. It moved into these new premises in the spring of 1920, and changed its name to its current German name in 1934. Its mission as part of the University of Kiel was to study the world economy, which was a unique mission, as other economics institutes at the time studied only national economies. The founding director and first head of the Kiel Institute, Bernhard Harms, directed the establishment of a research library, which was systematically expanded by Wilhelm Gülich, the head of the library for a number of years as of 1924, into the world's largest economics library. Harms also established several journals and an economics-related press archive. Further, he attached great importance to linking research to practical economics and to teaching research findings to economics students. The Institute, at the time, conducted international research for the benefit of Germany, which led to the establishment of a war archive and to the expansion of the Institute during World War I. During the Weimar Republic, the Institute established a reputation for competence in international economics. In 1926, the Institute established a department for statistical economics and business cycle research, which gave the Institute a new profile in business cycle theory and business cycle policies. The new department was headed by Adolf Löwe and staffed by such researchers as Gerhard Colm, Hans Neisser, Jacob Marschak, and the Nobel laureate in Economics Wassily Leontief, all of whom published highly acclaimed research findings.

When the Nazis took over power in Germany, Jewish members of staff and members of staff who were active in the Social Democratic Party were quickly forced to leave the Institute. This affected the new department for statistical economics and business cycle research the most, and many of the staff in the department emigrated to the United States, where they became professors of economics. Bernhard Harms initially supported the Nazis and remained the head of the Institute, but later resisted the Nazi SA when it forced the Jewish members of staff to leave the Institute, and was himself then forced to leave. Formally, he retained his professorship at the University of Kiel, but was actually only active academically as an honorary professor in Berlin until his death in 1939. Harms was succeeded by Jens Jessen, who, because of differences with the Nazis, had himself transferred to the University of Marburg in October 1934. He was succeeded by Andreas Predöhl, who had worked for a long time under Bernhard Harms. Predöhl served as director of the Institute from July 1934 to November 1945. He strengthened the ties between the Institute and the University of Kiel and prevented the Institute's library from being cleansed of books written by Jews. During his term in office, the library was also able to buy foreign literature until far into World War II. The Institute conducted international economic research that was important for Germany's war planning and its economic aspects, for example, access to natural resources and the geopolitical significance of areas that Germany considered to be part of its "Grossraum" (economic areas under German supremacy), up until 1945. A comprehensive analysis of the research conducted by the Institute between 1933 and 1945 has never been undertaken. The complete holdings of the library were moved to Ratzeburg (Herzogtum Lauenburg) and thus were not destroyed during the war. However, parts of the Institute and its press archive were destroyed. After the war, British occupation authorities dismissed Predöhl as the director of the Institute (in November 1945) but allowed him remain a professor at the University of Kiel, which he left for a professorship at the University of Münster in 1953. He died at the age of 80 in Münster in 1974.

Friedrich Hoffmann was temporarily appointed to replace Predöhl as the acting director of the Institute and was succeeded, in 1948, by Fritz Baade (1893–1974), who devoted himself primarily to research in agricultural economics and food security. Under his leadership and thanks to his good connections in the United States and other countries, he was able to reintegrate the Institute into the international research community and to expand its role as an important economic research center with its own large library and its own archive of press clippings.

Erich Schneider (1900–1970) succeeded Fritz Baade as the director of the Institute in 1961. As the leading proponent of Keynesianism in Germany at the time and the author of a multivolume bestseller entitled "Einführung in die Volkwirtschaftslehre" (Introduction to Economics), he affiliated the Institute more closely with the University of Kiel, which later resulted in many researchers at the Institute becoming professors at German and non-German universities. He also established the Bernhard Harms Prize in 1964, on the occasion of the Institute's 50th anniversary. The first person to be awarded the prize, Gerhard Colm, was a former researcher at the Institute, a professor, an advisor to President Truman, and the engineer of the German currency reform in 1948.

Herbert Giersch (1921–2010) was appointed director of the Institute in 1989, and subsequently became president of the Institute. Numerous economic sea changes that determined the Institute's research and policy-advising activities took place during his period in office: the Bretton Woods system collapsed, oil prices began to climb, and developing countries and emerging markets started producing manufactured goods for world markets. He strengthened the Institute's policy-advising role in Germany by playing a leading intellectual role in the German Council of Economic Experts. In this role, the Institute became involved in numerous controversies with the German government because it differed with the government on such important issues as exchange rate policies and monetary, labor, and industrial policies. Under Giersch's leadership, the Institute became significantly more active in research of an international, applied nature. As a result, it played a leading role in the Sonderforschungsbereich 86 "Weltwirtschaft und internationale Wirtschaftsbeziehungen" (Special Research Area 86 for Global Economics and Global Economic Affairs).

Giersch was succeeded by Horst Siebert (1938–2009) in 1989. Numerous economic sea changes also took place during his period in office: communist economies collapsed, the two Germanys were reunited, China became a world economic power, information technology emerged, and reforms of the labor market and social security systems became topical, as did the sustainable use of environmental resources as well. During his period in office, he was, like Herbert Giersch before, a member of the German Council of Economic Experts. Further, he defined the Institute's public image by often appearing on television and by publishing numerous articles and monographs on topical economic issues. Under his leadership, the Institute became more involved in environmental and resource economics, and international financial market economics. Siebert served as the president of the Institute until 2003, when he was given emeritus status.

After a period of 18 months in which the Institute had difficulties appointing a new president, Dennis J. Snower (born 1950) succeeded Siebert. Snower was appointed president of the Institute in October 2004 and is the first non-German to be appointed head of a leading economic research institute in Germany. He reorganized the Institute from the ground up, redefined its mission, and established such events as the Global Economic Symposium and the Global Economy Prize Awards, both of which are symbolic of the Institute's mission: to be a highly competent center for global economic affairs in research, education and policy-advising pertaining to topics and issues that are of immediate social importance from a global perspective, and to strike a balance between being a research center on its own and a part of various research networks. The Institute participates in the German Joint Economic Forecast. As of January 2007, the Institute's library became an independent nonprofit organization (under public law) called the German National Library of Economics (ZBW).


The Institute holds the Global Economic Symposium, together with the German National Library of Economics, annually, and awards the Global Economy Prize.


The following researchers worked/have worked/work for the Institute.

Heads of the Institute

  • Bernhard Harms (1914–1933)
  • Jens Jessen (1933 – February 1934)
  • Andreas Predöhl (1934–1945)
  • Fritz Baade (1948–1961)
  • Erich Schneider (April 1961 – December 1968)
  • Herbert Giersch (1969–1989)
  • Horst Siebert (1989 – March 2003)
  • Dennis J. Snower (since October 2004)

Further Researchers

  • Hermann Bente
  • Ewald Bosse
  • Gerhard Colm
  • Wassily Leontief – Nobel laureate (1973)
  • August Lösch
  • Adolph Lowe
  • Hans Neisser
  • Karl Schiller
  • Norbert Walter


Arbeitskreis Asche-Prozeß: Antifaschistische Stadtführungen. Kiel 1933–1945. Stationen zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus in Kiel. Kiel 1998, S. 38f.

Christoph Dieckmann: Wirtschaftsforschung für den Großraum. Zur Theorie und Praxis des Kieler Instituts für Weltwirtschaft und des Hamburger Welt-Wirtschafts-Archivs im „Dritten Reich". In: Modelle für ein deutsches Europa. Ökonomie und Herrschaft im Großwirtschaftsraum. Beiträge zur nationalsozialistischen Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik, Bd. 10 (1992), S. 146–198.

Hans-Georg Glaeßer: Christian Bernhard Cornelius Harms. In: Kieler Lebensläufe aus sechs Jahrhunderten. Hgg. von Hans F. Rothert. Neumünster 2006, S. 123–126.

Harald Hagemann: Zerstörung eines innovativen Forschungszentrums und Emigrationsgewinn. Zur Rolle der „Kieler Schule" 1926–1933 und ihrer Wirkung im Exil, in: ders. (Hg.) Zur deutschsprachigen wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Emigration nach 1933, Marburg 1997.

Harald Hagemann: Weltklasse für sieben Jahre. Die Konjunkturabteilung des Instituts für Weltwirtschaft 1926–1933, in: Christiana Albertina. Forschungen und Berichte aus der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Heft 67, November 2008, S. 52–70.

Hochstätter: Karl Schiller – eine wirtschaftspolitische Biographie. Saarbrücken 2008.

Friedrich Hoffmann: Die Geschichte des Instituts für Weltwirtschaft. (Von der Gründung bis zum Ausscheiden des Gründers.) Teil 1: Die Geschichte der äußeren Gestaltung. Teil 2: Die Geschichte der inneren Entfaltung. Teil 3: Kleine Erlebnisse mit und um Bernhard Harms. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript. Kiel 1941–1944.

Fünfzig Jahre Institut für Weltwirtschaft an der Universität Kiel. Reden und Ansprachen anläßlich des Festakts am 18. Februar 1964 im Stadttheater Kiel. Kiel 1964.

Torben Lütjen: Karl Schiller (1911–1994). „Superminister" Willy Brandts. Bonn 2007.

Frank Omland: Institut für Weltwirtschaft. In: Kiel-Lexikon. Kiel 2010 (im Erscheinen).

Hans-Christian Petersen: Expertisen für die Praxis. Das Kieler Institut für Weltwirtschaft 1933 bis 1945. In: Christoph Cornelissen / Carsten Mish (Hg.), Wissenschaft an der Grenze. Die Universität Kiel im Nationalsozialismus. Essen 2009.

Rolf Seeliger: Braune Universität. Deutsche Hochschule gestern und heute. München 1968.

Ralph Uhlig (Hrsg.): Vertriebene Wissenschaftler der Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel nach 1933, Frankfurt am Main 1992.

Anton Zottmann: Institut für Weltwirtschaft an der Universität Kiel 1914–1964, Kiel 1964.

  1. ^ "Field Ranking at IDEAS". April 2013. 
  2. ^ "University of Pennsylvania, International Relations Program" (PDF). January 2013. 
  3. ^ "ZBW – German National Library". October 2011. 

External links[edit]

Kiel Institute for the World Economy

Global Economic Symposium (GES)

Arbeitskreis zur Erforschung des Nationalsozialismus in Schleswig-Holstein e.V.