On the occasion of the leave of IZA Founding Director Zimmermann and in the presence of more than 230 participants from science, policy, business and media, a prominent round of experts discussed the challenges and perils of policy making on the basis of scientific policy advice. The event took place in the Universitätsclub Bonn (University Club of Bonn University) on February 22, 2016. Under the moderation of Professor Ferdinand Dudenhöffer (Direktor, CAR-Center Automotive Research, University of Duisburg-Essen), the panelists were: Roland Tichy (Prominent independent journalist and Head of the Ludwig-Erhard-Foundation; former Editor-in-Chief of Wirtschaftswoche), Professor Friederike Welter (President of the Bonn-based Institut für Mittelstandsforschung; prominent policy advisor), Professor Klaus F. Zimmermann (Bonn University and IZA), Professor Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, Wolfgang Clement (former Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and Minister for Economics and Labor in the reform cabinet of Chancellor Schröder), Bernhard Mattes (Chairman, Ford of Germany and Vice President, Ford of Europe) and Gernot B. Lehr (Partner, Redeker Sellner Dahs, prominent media lawyer, in 2016 Lawyer of the Year for North Rhine‐Westphalia).
Although the success and the potential of evidence-based policy advice have been widely shown, the concept is subject to criticism from various sides. The panel was discussing the issue dealing with the quality and potentials of research, the interactions between policy-makers and scientists, the development of the media and the legal constraints, and the role and demand of business. A conclusion has been that evidence-based policy advice requires a combination of research and advice with a global orientation. Only the best scientific findings should provide the foundation for important economic policy decisions. This superiority is owed to global competition both in research and policy advice, which ensures the use of the best methodology and findings.
Then Dr. Alessio J. G. Brown (Director for Strategy and Research Management, IZA) summarized the vision and success story of IZA over the last 18 years since its creation. IZA has become the world’s leading network of labor economics, visible and active in all major countries, and collaborating and working with institutions like the World Bank, the OECD, the ILO and the EU Commission. Wolfgang Clement and Roland Tichy stressed the contributions of the Founding Director for these developments. Martina Bihn (Editorial Director, Business/Economics & Statistics Springer Heidelberg) reported the long-term excellent collaborations with the Springer-Verlag, including the 30 years of the role of Zimmermann as Founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Population Economics. She announced that he would continue in this role as Editor-in-Chief and would lead for Springer-Verlag a major new reference collection in the profession.
At the opening of the event, Moderator Dudenhöffer had read a longer farewell letter of Professor Hans-Werner Sinn, (President of Ifo-Institute Munich and University of Munich) with his appraisal.
Zimmermann expressed his gratitude for 18 years of successful work to create a unique institution and global network. He thanked in particular his devoted support staff at IZA, the large network of currently 1500 fellows and affiliates word-wide, Bonn University and the Deutsche Post Foundation.
Media Coverage: The newspaper Bonner Generalanzeiger reported and commented.
Photographer: Sebastian Laubert, Bonn