Ad personam

Hans-Werner Sinn (* 7 March 1948) was President of the Ifo Institute, Professor for Economics and Public Finance at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Director of the Center for Economic Studies (CES) and Executive Director of CESifo GmbH. Sinn is known to the general public for his books on economic policy, which include: Jumpstart, Can Germany Be Saved?, Die Basar-Ökonomie, The Green Paradox, Casino Capitalism, and The Euro Trap. His main research interests are taxation, the environment, growth and exhaustible resources, risk theory, climate and energy, banking, demography and social security, macroeconomics and systemic competition.

Sinn obtained both doctorate (1978) and his habilitation (the post-doctoral degree qualifying him as a professor, 1983) from the University of Mannheim, earning the first prize for each of his degree theses. The University of Magdeburg, the University of Helsinki and the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management have each awarded him honorary doctorates. He is also an honorary professor of the University of Vienna. Over the course of his career, he has declined professorships or directorships from the Hamburger Weltwirtschaftliche Archiv, the Max-Planck-Institut für Transformationsforschung in Jena, and the University of Bern.

Sinn has received a wide range of other awards and prizes, including the Europe Prize by the University of Maastricht (2008), the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art (2008), the Gustav Stolper Prize of the Verein für Socialpolitik (2008), the State Medal for Special Services to the Bavarian Economy (2012), and the Ludwig Erhard Prize of the Ludwig Erhard Foundation. He is also holder of the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and of the 1st Class Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Sinn was appointed a full professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1984 initially as Professor of Economics and Actuarial Science for ten years, and then Professor of Economics and Public Finance at the Economics faculty. He had previously been a Professor at the University of Western Ontario (Canada) for two years. He has accepted guest professorships at the London School of Economics, as well as the Universities of Bergen, Stanford, Princeton and Jerusalem. He is the only German to date to have given the Yrjö Jahnsson Lectures in Helsinki and the Tinbergen Lectures in Amsterdam. Since 1988 Sinn has been a Fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge (USA). From 1997 to 2000 he was Chairman of the German Economic Association (Verein für Socialpolitik) and from 2006 to 2009 he was President of the International Institute of Public Finance (IIPF), the world association of public finance experts.

Since 1989 Sinn has been a member of the Scientific Council of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. He is also a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (historical-philosophical category), the European Academy of Sciences, and Leopoldina (the German Academy of Natural Scientists). He is a corresponding member of the North-Rhine Westphalian Academy of Sciences and of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (philosophical-historical category).

Research Areas

Sinn is seen as a generalist in economics. His main areas of research cover the topics of taxes, regulation, the labour market, the environment, growth and exhaustible resources, foreign trade, banks, insurance and risk, climate and energy, demography and social insurance, macro-economics, systems competition and systems transformation. His research results have been published in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Public Economics and the Quarterly Journal of Economics, amongst many others. More

Research Output

Hans-Werner Sinn has one of the highest research outputs among German-speaking economists. According to a study of citations by other scientists conducted by Ursprung and Zimmer in 2007, Sinn ranked second (all publications with proportionate weighting according to the number of authors) to Nobel laureate Reinhard Selten. In the years leading up to his retirement, Sinn consistently topped the ranking of research economists at German institutionsfeatured in the RePEc research database in number of citations by other academics. In the Handelsblatt Ranking of Economists for 2013, which is only based on output in journals and does not include citations and books, Sinn ranked 8th. In 2015 Sinn was awarded the “German teaching professor of the year” distinction by the Deutsche Hochschulverband (German Association of University Professors and Lecturers). He is the first economist to be awarded such distinction. 

Public Influence

For the British newspaper The Independent, Sinn’s research into the European payment system made him one of the ten most important people who changed the world in 2011. He ranked top of the WirtschaftsWoche’s list of “Most Important Economists” and was the only German to feature in Bloomberg’s ranking of the top 50 personalities in business worldwide in 2012. According to a survey conducted by the magazine Cicero ("Die Liste der 500", January 2013, p. 20), which listed the top 500 German intellectuals, Sinn ranked 14th. In a survey of German Bundestag members and federal ministry staff published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in 2013, Sinn ranked top in Germany as a response to the question “Which economist’s advice or publications do you find most valuable to your work?” The FAZ's ranking of economists named him "Germany's most influential economist of 2014", arguing that "no other economics researcher in Germany has such a high profile in the media and politics and is also active in research." He also topped the ranking in 2015. Sinn features in the worldwide list of the Top 100 Thought Leaders for his work on the bazaar economy.

(Annette Marquardt, Ifo Institute)