Max Planck Research Fellow

Gert G. Wagner as Research Fellow in the Institute

The Max Planck Society appointed Gert G. Wagner a Max Planck Fellow in 2008. In so doing, it recognized the interdisciplinary and fundamental research of an internationally renowned scientist. In 2018, Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society, appointed Gert G. Wagner Senior Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB) until the end of 2023.

As a Max Planck Fellow, Wagner works and publishes together with the Center for Adaptive Rationality, the Center for Lifespan Psychology, and the Harding Center for Risk Literacy. He belongs to the faculty of the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE), and he is one of the Principal Investigators of the Berlin Aging Study (BASE-II). He is a member of various networks: the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium (SSGAC), the IPD-Work Consortium (Individual-Participant Data meta-analysis in Working populations), and the Genetic Research into Quality of Life Consortium (GeneQol).

Wagner is a member of the editorial board of PLOS ONE. He belongs to the interdisciplinary working group “Implications of Digitalization for the Quality of Science Communication” of the Berlin–Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW); the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft’s Commission for Research Ethics; the ethics board of the European Social Survey; a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ESS ERIC); and the ethics board of AEGIS (Advanced Big Data Value Chain for Public Safety and Personal Security), an EC H2020 Innovation Action. Wagner is chairman of German federal government’s Social Advisory Council (Sozialbeirat der Bundesregierung). He serves on the federal government’s commission on “Reliable Intergenerational Contract” (Kommission Verlässlicher Generationenvertrag, 2018–2020); the German Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs; and the evaluation panel of the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO).


Wagner's research focuses on the causes of individual differences in life courses, with a special focus on risk preferences. He works primarily with the data of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), which he directed from 1989 to 2011. Findings from psychological research in a controlled laboratory environment often cannot be generalized to the world at large. Conversely, large-scale surveys in the social sciences rarely allow causal conclusions to be drawn on behavior and development at an individual level. This methodological dilemma is being addressed by integrating questions on psychological personality traits into the representative longitudinal SOEP study. Moreover, the SOEP Innovation Subsample (SOEP-IS) allows behavioral experiments to be administered in the context of a representative longitudinal survey. The SOEP serves also as a reference sample for the Berlin Aging Study (BASE-II), which is hosted at the MPIB.


The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) is a representative longitudinal survey that has been providing microdata for basic research in the social and economic sciences since 1984. The SOEP and its innovation subsample (SOEP-IS) is hosted at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin).

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