Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy

The Institute evolved from a project group dedicated to international and comparative social law launched in 1976 under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Hans F. Zacher. Ahead of schedule, that is, prior to the end of the originally planned term, the project group’s conversion into the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law was resolved and subsequently carried through in 1980. The Institute started out under the direction of its founder, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Hans F. Zacher, who in 1990 assumed the office of president of the Max Planck Society while continuing his directorship on a temporary basis. His position of director was later taken over by Prof. Dr. Bernd Baron von Maydell (1 February 1992 – 31 July 2002) and, after the latter’s retirement to emeritus status, by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Becker (since 1 September 2002). According to its Statute, the Institute was devoted solely to research in the field of foreign and international social law until 2011.

In accordance with its interdisciplinary orientation the Institute examines socio-political issues from a legal and economic perspective. The Department of Foreign and International Social Lawinvestigates, mainly by way of comparative research, the particular features of social law as an instrument for the implementation of social policy measures and as a special field of administrative law. With its orientation towards the economic side of social policy, the research of the Institute’s second department focuses on those socio-political issues that are associated with demographic change and the aging of the population. It is therefore called Munich Center for the Economics of Aging.

Both departments are reliant on each other’s genuine disciplinary interest in mutual exchange, i.e. legal interest in the investigation of the conditions as to the impact of law, as well as economic interest in law as the key element of the institutional framework, particularly with regard to the incentives exerted by regulations in the different socio-political fields. These interests find expression in joint research projects and seminars which focus on the understanding of the institutional framework and their impacts on individual and collective action.