Verein für Socialpolitik (VfS)

  • Description
  • The early Years

    The Verein für Socialpolitik is the leading association of German speaking economists. The Verein was founded in the year 1873. The activities of the new association focused on opposing laissez faire in social policy and the revolutionary social ideas of emerging socialism. The founders of the association wanted "to raise, educate and reconcile the lower classes on the basis of the existing order" as Gustav Schmoller, the chairman of the Verein for many years (1890 - 1917), put it. In Schmoller's time, the Verein für Socialpolitik started to develop into a politically neutral, interdisciplinary society.

    Dissolution and reestablishment

    190 volumes of the 'Reports of the Verein für Socialpolitik' had been published by 1936, when the association voluntarily disbanded. It did this to avoid having to bow to the ruling political party. The Verein für Socialpolitik was refounded in 1948.


    The aim of the association is to promote the scientific discussion of economic and social issues including international relations. The Verein für Socialpolitik is the scientific society of the German-speaking economists. Its members come from all over world, but mostly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.


    The association's annual meeting hosts sessions with both invited and contributed papers. The invited paper sessions are organized around a common topic and bring together leading experts in the field. In the contributed paper sessions, a large number of selected scientific papers from all fields of economics are presented. At the annual meeting in Dresden in 2004, there were 640 participants. 340 papers out of 750 were accepted for the contributed paper sessions.


    Since 1997, the Verein für Socialpolitik has awarded the annual Gossen prize which is endowed with 10.000 €. The award honours a distinguished young economist whose work has won international reputation. In order to promote the international visibility of young German-speaking economists, the Verein für Socialpolitik also supports presentations at major international conferences (outside the German language area) with a lecture premium of 500 €.


    January 2011, the society had 3.733 individual members and 38 institutional members. There are more than 1200 university professors from more than 20 countries. Amongst the members are also many representatives of the business and political world. The Verein für Socialpolitik offers them the opportunity to keep in touch with latest developments in theory and bridges the gap between theory and policy.


    The research output of our members is presented at the annual meeting and at workshops of the 23 permanent research committees. The work of these research committees is well documented in its many publications. Since re-establishment, more than 240 volumes of the 'New Reports of the Verein für Socialpolitik' have been published. The Verein also publishes four issues of its journal 'Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften' which was founded in 1871 as 'Jahrbuch für Verwaltung und Rechtspflege des Deutschen Reichs' (Yearbook for administration and law of the German Empire) and renamed in 1913 as 'Schmollers Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reich'. The journal was given its current name in 1972. From 2000 on members will receive two different journals, the English German Economic Review and the German Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, both published by Basil Blackwell.


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