The Institute of Rural Economics was founded on December 1, 2021 and emerged from the former Institute of Rural Studies. The new institute is characterized by the fact that we specifically deal with questions of economic development in rural areas and derive decision-making aids for politics on the basis of the scientific foundations developed in the process.
We deal with issues relating to economic and working conditions in rural areas and investigate how these conditions develop over time, also in comparison with non-rural areas, on an area-wide basis for Germany. We are particularly interested in why some rural areas prosper while others risk falling further behind. In our analyses, we take into account that rural areas differ not only from non-rural areas in their endowment with hard and soft location factors as well as with regard to their growth paths and development opportunities, but also from each other. Based on the findings, we analyze and evaluate measures and options for action for political decision-makers. From a methodological point of view, our research focus is primarily on the quantitative analysis of secondary data on regions, firms or individuals. In the future, however, we will also apply so-called mixed methods to research economic and working conditions in rural areas.
Within the Thuenen Institute, we work closely with the Institute of Rural Studies. Three of our six fields of work, "Monitoring, Indicators, Regional Analyses", "Securing Basic Services/ Services of General Interest" and "Policy Impact Assessment and Evaluation", are worked on jointly by both institutes. In addition, there are links for cooperation with other Thuenen Institutes, for example, in research into the regional economic effects of structural change in various sectors and value chains. Contacts for this are in particular the Thünen Institutes for Market Analysis and Farm Economics. Outside the Thunen Institute, we work on joint projects with various national research institutions. These currently include the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the Leibniz University of Hannover (LUH). Cooperation with the University of Hannover has been institutionalized and placed on a permanent footing through the joint appointment of the institute's director. In addition, cooperation at the international level is planned for the future. We already represent Germany on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the "Working Party on Rural Policy" of the OECD.
We are currently facing the challenge of filling the Institute's concept with life. An important goal is to establish the Institute in the scientific community in the coming years. To this end, we must gradually recruit new staff members at our new location in Höxter and intensify and expand our cooperation with partner institutions. In doing so, we want to develop a distinctive research profile that takes into account the special challenges facing rural areas, e.g. as a result of economic shocks, demographic change, digitalization and the development towards a greenhouse gas-neutral economy.