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History of the Department of Economics at the JKU

Economics was one of the core disciplines, besides business studies and sociology (and law), when the Johannes Kepler University Linz was established in 1966 (under its initial name University for Social Sciences, Economics and Business). This was the time of a growing interest in social and economic research, stimulated by hopes that the insights would contribute to a better development of the economy and the society as a whole. Until now, the particular focus on applicability of both the theoretical and the empirical work by the members of the Department of Economics reflects this intention.

In the first decades, the Department’s activities were strongly influenced by the founding Professor Kurt Rothschild who retired in 1985. Being shaped by his long stay in Great Britain, he attached great importance on the use of precise scientific methods, which at that time was not to be taken as granted at the economics departments in Austria, as a longstanding consequence of the big loss of researchers in the Nazi-era.

Empirical studies related to labor market problems have always been a central theme of the Department’s research, as is documented by the two large projects financed by the Austrian Science Fund, namely “The Labor Market and Unemployment” (headed by Rothschild together with Gunter Tichy of the University of Graz) and “The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State” in the years 2008-2014, headed by Rudolf Winter-Ebmer. In addition, numerous important research studies were prepared, relating to various fields, such as International Economics and Public Economics, among many others.

The success of the Department’s activities can also be seen from the large number of economics graduates who have been employed in various areas (like economic research institutes, ministries, chambers, banks, firms, international organizations, etc.), where many were promoted to leading positions. Many former students and academic staff succeeded as excellent researchers and were appointed professors at prominent universities (for instance at Zurich, Munich, Bayreuth, Innsbruck, Vienna and Linz).