Mission and Vision
Building bridges for research in labor economics
IZA is a bridge builder for research in labor economics. We narrow the distance between science and society, and transport relevant knowledge about the working world to the general public, political actors and economic players. IZA is the hub of a global network of scholars who work with us to create a sound economic understanding of how labor markets work and how labor market policies perform. We contribute to the future of labor research by supporting young scholars on their paths to becoming tomorrow’s leading academics.
IZA was initiated by the Deutsche Post Foundation in 1998. The institute is based in Bonn, Germany, where a team of expert researchers studies the future of work. They deliver answers about how to effectively safeguard employment and maintain social cohesion. IZA engages in fundamental research, scientific policy advice, and active transfer of knowledge. We are impartial and follow the rules of good academic practice in all our activities.
Impartial mediator between science and society
IZA is driven by the conviction that excellent research in labor economics is relevant to society. Making the meaning and implications of its findings visible is a core part of our mission. We therefore engage in a comprehensive transfer of knowledge that addresses various target groups within the triangle of politics, the public and the economy. This transfer includes transparent and impartial scientific policy advice. With own and third-party funding, we initiate projects with innovative content and methodology. At IZA, we are continually advancing our research agenda to enable us to provide well-supported answers to pressing societal challenges concerning the future of work.
The flagship of our science communication is the IZA World of Labor, a unique multimedia encyclopedia of current knowledge in labor economics created together with our expert contributors. Covering a broad range of often controversial labor market issues, it delivers concise surveys of research findings, which are accessible, well-balanced and policy-relevant. With our initiatives to provide matter-of-fact information on labor market issues to the public, IZA overcomes the widespread divide between practice and research, and helps prevent an erosion in the credibility of academic research.
A global cluster of excellence in labor market research
IZA has established itself as the leading international platform that links and disseminates cutting-edge research in all areas of labor economics. Our global network of more than 1,300 selected research fellows who are distinguished by their excellent and relevant contributions, fosters collaboration within academia as well as exchange between science and practice. IZA honors outstanding achievements in our field with the IZA Prize in Labor Economics.
Topically focused program areas give clear structure to the network of IZA. Renowned scholars who have shaped the research agenda in their respective field act as program directors. They provide an impetus for research topics and organize scientific exchange on innovative research questions and methods. Thus we always keep our fingers on the pulse of international labor market research.
The IZA Discussion Papers are a recognized reference for anyone interested in the latest trends in labor economics around the globe. In the series, members of our research network publish around 800 academic papers every year. They stimulate important debates at an early stage and make new knowledge public long before it appears in scientific journals.
IZA builds structures that create and disseminate valuable knowledge. We organize first-rate scientific events that serve critical discussion of newest research. Events like the Transatlantic Meeting of Labor Economists build bridges between European and American labor market research. IZA coordinates the GLM|LIC initiative, which supports research projects in the world’s poorest regions and provides impulses to their development. IDSC, the Research Data Center of IZA, facilitates access to data for scientists and thus provides the raw material for empirical labor research.
Exploring the changing world of work
While work continues to provide the basis for our material and social well-being, it is undergoing continuous transformation. The IZA research team in Bonn explores how the world of work and labor markets are changing. It investigates how to design an institutional framework that maintains employment and social cohesion. Our research regarding the future of work is primarily empirical, grounded on solid theoretical foundations. It utilizes statistical evaluation techniques, controlled experiments, and behavioral simulation models. In its research activities, IZA involves researchers from its global network and cooperates with prestigious academic institutions, such as the University of Bonn and the briq Institute on Behavior and Inequality, which is also funded by the Deutsche Post Foundation.
IZA’s in-house research on the future of work is divided into four areas of expertise:
- Changing World of Work
- Workers of the Future
- Sustainable Labor Policies
- Work and Social Cohesion
Promoting the future of labor research
We motivate young researchers to explore solutions for societally relevant labor market issues, and build bridges on their paths to a career in academia. The best young scholars get invited to join the IZA network as Research Affiliates, and are treated on an equal footing with our established Research Fellows. We learn from their innovations and enhance the visibility of their fresh views. We organize events such as the annual IZA Summer School in Labor Economics that allow young academics to connect to and learn from experienced economists. The Young Labor Economist Award honors scholars who have made extraordinary contributions to advancing labor economics already early in their careers.
IZA recruits outstanding young researchers who seek innovative answers to work-related challenges of the future, and who aspire to leading positions in labor market research. Our international team in Bonn is organized in flexible research groups which jointly develop and implement their agenda. Experienced team leaders coordinate these groups and provide guidance for junior researchers. IZA cooperates with excellent graduate schools, such as the Bonn Graduate School of Economics. We offer a dynamic environment to our Research Associates that helps advance their academic careers in the field of labor economics, and provides an opportunity to gain valuable experience in science communication and academic policy advice.
Honoring outstanding research
The prestigious IZA Prize in Labor Economics is awarded for outstanding academic achievement in the field. The Young Labor Economist Award honors promising researchers under age 45. Both awards are given biennially.
History of IZA
Dedicated to the future of labor
Since its founding in 1998, IZA has become a leading center in national and international labor market research and policy advice. The current profile of the institute is rooted in a history characterized by diverse research initiatives and a unique global network.
Pioneering work in science, service and policy advice
IZA was initiated by the Deutsche Post Foundation and its President, Klaus Zumwinkel, who also serves as President of IZA. Established for the purpose to foster research, science and education, the Deutsche Post Foundation has been providing IZA with substantial funding for more than 20 years now, thereby ensuring its financial and intellectual independence. As required by law, the Deutsche Post Foundation itself acts independently from its founder, Deutsche Post DHL.
During the crisis of the German labor market at the end of the 1990s, the vision of IZA’s founders was to establish a new, independent research institute that would be able to concentrate entirely on labor market research and evidence-based policy advice. Free from the constraints of commissioned research and other dependencies, IZA was charged with developing sustainable concepts for the future of work. This initiative of the Deutsche Post Foundation is still unparalleled in the German research landscape. It has not only created ideal working conditions for IZA as a non-profit research institution, but it has also pushed German labor market research in general towards greater independence and international competitiveness.
Local and global
IZA has always aimed at reconciling scientific excellence with impartial policy advice. Under the leadership of its founding director, Klaus F. Zimmermann, the institute rose within a few years to the top of international labor economics and found its role as a place of professional communication between science, politics and society. IZA maintains its headquarters in Bonn, the former German capital, which has seen many political and often visionary debates in the past – a tradition that has also inspired IZA.
The international team at our headquarters, and our fellows and affiliates worldwide, are the key assets of IZA. Our success would not have been possible without the global network activities coordinated from Bonn. The combination of a local research center and global network has enabled IZA to swiftly bring together expert groups to work on specific projects dealing with current challenges of labor market policy. Hardly any other research institute has this sort of infrastructure, which has proven its worth over the past 20 years.
The constant exchange within the network ensures that IZA always remains up-to-date and incorporates the latest empirical findings and research methods into its work. This is what drives our impact and credibility.
In numerous independent research reports for German, European and international institutions, as well as in various scientific publications, IZA has always critically but constructively assessed labor market policies and developments. IZA has been advising, among others, the European Commission, the European Parliament, national ministries, foundations and global institutions such as the World Bank or the OECD.
These are some examples of notable achievements in IZA’s history of research and policy advice:
- supporting the German government’s Independent Commission on Immigration with analyses of the short- and long-term demand for immigration to fill labor shortages;
- accompanying the Hartz reforms in Germany with comprehensive evaluation studies;
- constructing the IZA/IAB Administrative Evaluation Dataset (AED) and the IZA/IAB Linked Evaluation Dataset 1993-2010 (LED), which link administrative data with survey data, thus enabling new approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of active labor market policies;
- developing the IZA Policy Simulation Model (IZAΨMOD), a behavioral microsimulation model regularly used to assess the labor market and distributional impact of social policy reform proposals;
- evaluating pilot projects for the use of anonymous job applications at the federal and state level in order to assess the potential of this approach to combat discrimination in the hiring process and to promote diversity;
- analyzing demographic change to estimate future shortages of skilled labor in the German and European labor markets;
- coordinating the GLM|LIC initiative on behalf of the UK Department of International Development (DFID), which supports a large number of research projects aimed at improving living conditions in low-income countries;
- directing the conception and implementation of a large-scale project for the German government to evaluate federal policies to promote the social and labor market integration of refugees.
All these activities share IZA’s main objectives to facilitate communication between science and practice, to make labor market research more visible, and to encourage labor economists to provide evidence-based policy advice.
Promoting research – through cooperation and competition
We are proud that our approach has proven successful and has led other institutions to adopt our understanding of labor market research as a constructively critical partner in policymaking. IZA has partnered with many of these institutions over the years, but also engages in fair and mutually respectful scientific competition that serves to advance our discipline.
We believe that our work has contributed to improving the process of policy design and evaluation, which today relies much more strongly on scientific expertise than in the past.
Rooted in our tradition as an impartial source of research and policy advice, IZA will further sharpen its thematic focus on the future of work, while continuing to exercise its role as a global cluster of excellence in labor market research.
Jobs at IZA
IZA regularly offers posts as Research Associates for experienced PhDs in the field of labor economics. Look out for job opportunities or send your CV. Applications for a job as a student helper are welcome as well.