ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy



ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy, a joint initiative of the Universities of Bonn and Cologne, aims to advance the analysis of markets & public policy in light of fundamental societal and technological challenges, such as digitalization, global financial crises, rising inequality, political polarization and climate change. Since 2019, ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy is funded as a Cluster of Excellence under the German Excellence Strategy. ECONtribute is the only Cluster of Excellence in Economics and neighbouring disciplines.

The development of responses to these societal challenges requires a comprehensive and innovative approach which takes account of societal objectives beyond economic efficiency, legal and political constraints and makes use of innovative research designs. To this end, the Cluster brings together outstanding researchers from economics and neighboring disciplines – management, psychology, political science and law – from the Universities of Bonn and Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods and organizes their research activities under the roof of the Reinhard Selten Institute (RSI).

The ECONtribute network promotes two-way knowledge exchange between researchers and policymakers.

Clusters of Excellence

The Excellence Strategy of the German Research Foundation

The Excellence Strategy is a program of the Federal Government and the Länder to strengthen cutting-edge research at German universities in two funding lines: Clusters of Excellence and Universities of Excellence. Currently, 57 Clusters of Excellence across Germany are funded as part of the Excellence Strategy

Partner Institutions

University of Bonn

Established in 1818, the University of Bonn has been shaped by outstanding personalities from a wide range of subjects. Since 2019, Bonn is one of the eleven German Universities of Excellence.

University of Cologne

The University of Cologne is one of the oldest and largest universities in Europe. Due to its outstanding scientific achievements and the high quality and diversity of its degree programmes, it enjoys an excellent international reputation.

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

The Max Planck Institute investigates the provision of collective good focusing on behavioral interventions and experimental methods in economics, as well asbehavioral research in law and economics.  An important theme is research on credence goods and measures of consumer protection.

Why Markets & Public Policy?

Markets are central to the functioning of modern societies, but they may also fail and generate undesirable outcomes, contributing e.g. to inequality of income and wealth, undermining efforts to prevent climate change or causing financial crisis. Traditionally, this calls for a correction through public policy, tackling the undesired outcomes by regulation, taxation or public goods provision.


New Methods beyond Traditional Approaches

ECONtribute goes beyond traditional approaches and aims to offer innovative solutions to political decision-makers that have so far hardly been taken into account in the field of Economics. The Cluster does so by broadening the view towards new challenges that have appeared due to structural changes in the economy, taking account of new objectives beyond the traditional notions of economic efficiency and welfare, and by employing and advancing new tools. ECONtribute systematically combines model-based theoretical approaches and behavior-based empirical approaches , taking into account constraints set by legal and political framework . This will pave the way for a new paradigm for the analysis of markets & public policy.


Implications for Everyday Life

ECONtribute deals with questions that have an impact on politics and the society as well as on how we can and want to live in the future. A wide range of topics is covered within the fundamental research of the Cluster, such as the economic policy aspects of fair taxation or financial market regulation, human capital formation and equal opportunities as well as digitization and polarization. All research activities center around two fundamental questions: To what extent is public policy needed to ensure the proper functioning of markets and to correct undesirable market outcomes? And how should such policies be designed to achieve the desired objectives and avoid policy failures?


Multifaceted Research Program

The Cluster is organized in nine research areas mapping the broad variety of research questions and approaches.

ECONtribute has made it a priority to promote early career researchers through flexible career tracks and fostering excellence in graduation. For that, the Cluster has set up the Young ECONtribute Program. Putting equality and diversity in practice, the Cluster strives to significantly increase the share of women at the Cluster.


Further partners