Ifo Institute for Economic Research
|Motto||Information und Forschung|
|Merger of||Süddeutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung
Informations- und Forschungsstelle of the Bavarian Statistical Office
|Legal status||Eingetragener Verein|
|Affiliations||Center for Economic Studies
University of Munich
The Ifo Institute for Economic Research is a Munich-based research institution. Ifo is an acronym from Information and Forschung (research). As one of Germany's largest economic think-tanks, it analyses economic policy and is widely known for its monthly Ifo Business Climate Index for Germany. Its research output is significant: about a quarter of the articles published by German research institutes in international journals in economics in 2006 were from Ifo researchers.
According to its by-laws, the aim of the Ifo Institute is to conduct empirical research in the fields of economics and social science, and to supply data, information and research results in economics and economic policy. The results of Ifo’s work are made accessible to the general public and should – according to Ifo’s by-laws – support decision-making in academia, business, politics and administration.
- Supplying the public with economic data. The Institute organizes seminars and presentations by and for its own researchers and other economists. The well-known Ifo Business Climate Index is Ifo’s most prominent instrument for business cycle analyses. With its DICE database the Ifo Institute offers cross-country comparisons of systematic information on institutions and regulations. The Institute also publishes a number of journals in economics.
- Generating its own data (e.g. Ifo Business Climate Index) via its corporate surveys.
- Providing policy advice to influential public agencies, especially to federal and state ministries in Germany.
- Developing models to simulate the effects of market intervention in the economy.
- Research in economics. : Ifo’s research prior to 1999 was heavily geared towards its advisory function. Following the recommendation of the Scientific Advisory Council a stronger university orientation was followed as of 1999. As a research organisation the Ifo Institute cooperates closely with many German universities, especially with the University of Munich (LMU), as well as with numerous domestic and foreign research institutes.
- The Institute has a branch in Dresden, which focuses on analysis of economic developments in Saxony and the other new states.
The Ifo Institute is a registered society with the sole purpose of non-profit, economic and social research. Its by-laws constitute the legal foundation of the society. Ifo’s main organs are the Annual General Meeting, the Executive Board, the Ifo Administrative Council, the Board of Trustees and the Scientific Advisory Council. The Chairman of the Executive Board is also described in the by-laws as the Institute’s President. Alongside the President, the Executive Board may also have one to two further members. The Administrative Council supervises the Executive Board. It consists of two members from the Board of Trustees, two members from the University of Munich, a federal government representative, a Bavarian State government representative, the Chairman of the Scientific Administrative Council and further members who are elected by the Annual General Meeting. The aim of the Board of Trustees, as stated in the by-laws, is to support the Executive Board in fulfilling the society’s aims. According to Ifo’s by-laws, the Board of Trustees should have, “at least 20 members from academia, business, politics, trade unions and administration”.
Around two thirds of the Ifo Institute’s financing currently comes from public funds (in the form of joint research funding from the government and the Länder via the Leibniz Association), while around one third comes from the proceeds of third-party funded projects, which are mainly commissioned by public sector clients (“scientific policy advisory work”). Research for the private sector is relatively insignificant
The Ifo Institute is an institute “at the University of Munich”, which reflects its close links with the university.
The Dresden branch of Ifo is mainly financed by grants from the Free State of Saxony (as well as by a small amount of third-party funds).
The Ifo Institute currently employs about 193 people, approximately half of whom are researchers. The current Ifo president is Hans-Werner Sinn.
The Ifo Institute was founded in 1949 as the Informations- und Forschungsstelle (Ifo – Information and Research branch) für Wirtschaftsbeobachtung (for economic monitoring) with funds from the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior. In 1993 the Ifo Institute opened a branch in Dresden to analyse the economic integration of both parts of reunified Germany. Under the presidency of Hans-Werner Sinn, Ifo became an Institute “at” the University of Munich University of Munich (LMU), which was reflected in its expanded name (which was changed to "Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich") and its close cooperation with the Center for Economic Studies (CES), also headed by Sinn.
- Business Cycle Analyses and Surveys
- Public Finance
- Social Policy and Labour Markets
- Human Capital and Innovation
- Industrial Organisation and New Technologies
- Energy, Environment and Exhaustible Resources
- International Trade
- International Institutional Comparisons
Report on the German economy
The Ifo Institute participates in the twice yearly (spring and autumn) joint analysis of the state of the German and world economy, the so-called Gemeinschaftsdiagnose.  The other institutes are: Institut für Weltwirtschaft (IfW) in Kiel; Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (IWH) in Halle; and Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) in Essen.
At its meeting of 2 November 2009 the Joint Science Conference (GWK - Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz) of the German federal and state governments decided to re-classify and fund the Ifo Institute as a “primarily research institution”. For over a decade prior to this point the Ifo Institute was jointly funded by the federal government and the Länder as an “institution that primarily conducts scientific infrastructure tasks” (as a service institution). In taking this decision, the GWK followed the recommendation of the Leibniz Association Senate of 4 March 2009.
After an extensive evaluation by an international commission of experts in 2006, the Senate of the Leibniz Association had already acknowledged that the Ifo Institute showed: “good, and in some areas very good to excellent achievements in economics research and policy advisory work”. This positive assessment was qualified by the Senate’s criticism of Ifo’s services, which were partly described as: “not corresponding to the latest research, especially with regard to their methodological foundations”. In 2009 the Senate came to the conclusion that the Ifo Institute had addressed these shortcomings.
In its 2006 report the evaluation commission also described CESifo GmbH, the joint subsidiary of the LMU and the Ifo Institute, as a “great institution for knowledge transfer and international cooperation.”
According to a study cited by the Handelsblatt, the Ifo Institute was the economics think-tank with the highest number of publications in Germany in 2006. In the Handelsblatt ranking of economists under the age of 40 years, Ifo ranked top among all of the economics institutes and faculties in German-speaking countries in 2011. In the RePEc ranking of research performance, disregarding age, the Ifo Institute ranked third among Germany’s economics research institutes and faculties. The list below features Ifo's main publications:
- ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung
- ifo Forschungsberichte
- ifo Dresden Studien
- EEAG Report
- Ifo Economic Policy (pub. by Edward Elgar)
- CES Munich Lectures Series (pub. by MIT Press)
- CESifo Seminar Series (pub. by MIT Press)
- CESifo Book Series (pub. by MIT Press)
- CESifo Economic Studies (pub. by Oxford University Press)
- ifo Schnelldienst
- CESifo Forum
- CESifo DICE Report
- CESifo World Economic Survey
- ifo Konjunkturperspektiven
- ifo Dresden berichtet
- Ifo Working Papers
- CESifo Working Papers
- Handelsblatt: Forschungsleistung der Institute: Ifo hat die Nase deutlich vorn, 9. Juli 2007
- German government Web site Bundesregierung Online (German)
- Leibniz Gemeinschaft Referat Evaluierung (Hrsg.): "Leibniz-Senat verabschiedet positive Förderempfehlungen zu fünf Leibniz-Einrichtungen", Pressemitteilung E8/2006 vom 15. Juni 2006, als PDF-Datei aufzurufen auf der WGL-Seite Pressemitteilungen