Tasks and Goals
Bridging research and practice
IZA is an independent economic research institute that conducts research in labor economics and offers evidence-based policy advice on labor market issues. Supported by the Deutsche Post Foundation, IZA runs the world's largest network of economists, whose research provides answers to the global labor market challenges of our time. Our key objective is to build bridges between academic research, policymakers and society.
Our mission: Science at the service of society
Work has a major impact on our lives. We spend much of our lifetime engaged in productive activities. Whether our labor transforms into wealth or improves well-being, however, largely depends on the institutional setting. This is why scientific findings on the functioning of labor markets are of great importance to all those who play a role in shaping the various characteristics of work: voters, unions, employers, and politicians.
Ultimately, the policy challenge is to achieve a fair balance between individual wealth and societal wealth. In light of rapidly developing technological innovations and changing social policy needs, the search for effective solutions will remain a continuous challenge.
Evidence-based policy advice
The Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) advances empirical research in labor economics and uses the findings to develop evidence-based advice for policymakers and society. We collaborate with the world's largest economic research network comprising about 1,500 top-level scholars from all over the globe. Our goal is to contribute to social and economic discourse, enabling political decision-making to be based on the best available scientific knowledge.
Bridging science and society
IZA aims at building a bridge between science and society. We want to facilitate the communication of existing knowledge while at the same time stimulating research to close knowledge gaps. We see this approach as complementary to purely academic research. The transfer of scientific knowledge is an important task which has often been undervalued in traditional research and requires extra efforts. Regarding the use of our own research facilities, our mission is to focus on the provision of scientifically based answers to policy relevant questions that are not yet sufficiently covered by existing findings.
Our independent non-profit work is supported by Deutsche Post Foundation.
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
Shaping the Future of Labor
The initiative to set up IZA was initiated by the Deutsche Post and its President Klaus Zumwinkel, who also serves as President of the Institute. The Deutsche Post Foundation has been supporting IZA for almost 20 years. During the acute crisis of the German labor market at the end of the 1990s, the aim was to provide empirical evidence and advice through a new, independent research institute, which can concentrate on the scientific analysis of labor market issues without the constraints of external funding or other dependencies.
IZA has consistently pursued this mission as a non-profit institution in the two decades of its existence. Under the leadership of its founding director, Klaus F. Zimmermann, the institute rose to the top of labor economics within a few years and found its role as a place for professional communication between science, politics and society. To date, IZA has been organizing its activities from its headquarters in Bonn, situated in the former representative office of the federal state of Bremen, which has always been a place of political and visionary debates.
Local and global
IZA owes much of its success to its international staff and research fellows. The combination of a local research center and global network has enabled IZA to bring together expert groups on specific topics within a very short time and deal with current challenges of labor market policy. This sort of research infrastructure is almost unparalleled.
In numerous independent research reports commissioned by German, European and international institutions, as well as in various scientific publications, IZA has always critically but constructively assessed labor market policies and developments, e.g. for the European Commission, the European Parliament, national ministries, foundations and global institutions such as the World Bank or the OECD.
In addition, IZA has put great effort into fostering evidence-based policy advice. Milestones include the establishment of the IZA Prize in Labor Economics in 2002, IZA Evaluation Dataset Survey in 2007, and the IZA World of Labor in 2013. Among the IZA Prize winners are Jacob Mincer, one of the founding fathers of labor economics, and Dale Mortenson and Christopher Pissarides, who later received the Nobel Prize.
The IZA Evaluation Dataset is a novel panel survey which for the first time combines process-produced data from the Federal Employment Agency with interview data of unemployment individuals, thereby allowing assessments of the effectiveness of labor market programs in getting unemployed back to work. The IZA World of Labor is an online knowledge hub where renowned authors summarize the current state of knowledge on labor market issues in an easily accessible and comprehensible way.
IZA now continues the tradition of independent analysis of modern labor markets and practical policy concepts derived from these findings under the direction of Prof. Dr. Hilmar Schneider (since 2016). While IZA will focus more than ever on major topics in German and European labor market policy, the Institute will continue to exercise its role as a leader in international labor economics.
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. Current openings:
To expand our local staff, we have openings for Research Associates. Candidates are ideally close to completion of their Ph.D., bring excellent knowledge of econometrics and a strong interest in applied and policy-oriented labor issues.