History of RWI

How RWI was Founded

RWI is founded by Ernst Wagemann, the founder and first president of the Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung in Berlin (now Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, German Institute for Economic Research), and was intended to be “Department West” of the latter. Wagemann had founded the Berlin institute in 1925 and modelled it on American examples. He thereby laid the cornerstone of independent (i.e. from universities and other national institutions) economic research in Germany.

The initiative to establish the branch in Essen was provided by Walther Däbritz, who looked to follow up suggestions made by the members of the Ruhr economy. He also took over the leadership of the Essen branch. Its aim was to observe the economy of the Rhine-Westphalian industrial region.

1929 to 1938/39
RWI develops its own economic statistics for the observation of regional industry.

After 1939
The focus of attention moved to assignments on the industrial structure of the region and its key branches of industry, coal mining and the iron and steel industry.

On 27th May, the RWI was founded as a lawfully self-governing institute in Essen and took the legal entity of a registered association.

After the end of the Second World War, reconstruction, reintegration into the world economy, as well as the pre-conditions and consequences of European integration all became key issues. The coal and steel industries took on a more important role in the overall economy. The same also applied to many previously only regionally relevant problems.

In connection with the strong demand from the state for economic advice, the aftermath saw not only a continuation of economic and regional research, but also a broadening of nationwide research and a structural investigation into the overall national economy.

RWI becomes a member of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Wirtschaftswissenschaftlicher Forschungsinstitute (Working Committee of German Economic Research Institutes), which is founded in the same year. Together with 5 (previously 4) other member institutes it produces a diagnosis and forecast of the economic developments in the German and global economies twice a year (“Joint Diagnosis”, in spring and autumn).

At encouragement of the Westdeutscher Handwerkskammertag (West German Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades' Council), the introduction of a craft and trades department adds a further field of research.

RWI starts the development of its own econometric business cycle model, that it is regularly used in business cycle analyses.

Continuing the structural investigation of the overall national economy RWI starts the structural report on behalf of the Federal Minister of Economics, in competition with the DIW, HWWA, IfW and Ifo.

Christoph M. Schmidt takes over the office of president and Prof. Wim Kösters (2003) and Prof. Thomas K. Bauer (2004) are assigned to the board of RWI . The institute expands its research activity in the fields of labor market policy, education policy and migration. At the same time, the institute's organisational structure is overhauled, fulfilling the institute's international requirements, as well as the regular evaluations of the institute's work by the Leibniz Association.

The „Joint Diagnosis“ is no longer provided by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Wirtschaftswissenschaftlicher Forschungsinstitute (Working Committee of German Economic Research Institutes). Instead, it is put out to tender by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. RWI is part of the new project team “Joint Economic Forecast”.

On August 17 2016, the RWI gets a new name: RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research).

1926-1947: Ernst Wagemann
1947-1952: Bruno Kuske
1952-1972: Theodor Wessels
from 1972/73: Board of Directors: Bernhard Filusch, Willi Lamberts, Gregor Winkelmeyer
1986: Hans K. Schneider
1989: Paul Klemmer
since 2002: Christoph M. Schmidt

The Institute


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Phone: +49 (201) 8149-213