The mission of the Munich Research Institute for the Economics of Aging and SHARE analyses (MEA) is to analyze and project the micro- and macroeconomic effects of demographic change by using mathematical models, which are based on German, European, and global data, especially SHARE, the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. In addition to projecting possible future developments, these models shall be also used to analyze policy measures that affect these developments. MEA’s models and their resulting projections thus enable MEA to deliver sound scientific advice for economic and social policy.
MEA continues the work at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy and combines scientific research with strictly scientific consulting. It is a member of various interdisciplinary and international research networks in order to contribute to the transfer of knowledge. Due to its international and in particular its European orientation, MEA has the resources to analyze demographic changes, their economic implications, and their interactions with policy measures in comparative country studies. An important task of MEA is to understand more about these changes from different countries’ experiences.
The gradually accelerating demographic change is the background of this mission and belongs to the most important social developments of the next decades. This is not a new insight. Nevertheless, most of the public debate and scientific research in Europe is centered around the direct socio-political consequences only, especially the sustainability or reform of pay-as-you-go systems. Demographic change, however, has a much more fundamental impact on the economy. It will trigger large structural changes and influence all central markets – labor markets, goods and services markets, as well as capital markets in Germany and abroad. Demographic change will have a substantial effect on productivity and production patterns with higher wages and more imports. It will furthermore result in substantial changes in consumption structure: there will be a higher demand for goods and services addressing and serving the needs of elderly people, especially health care and long-term care.
These developments need to be anticipated- not at least in order to reduce or entirely prevent transition problems. Though these topics begin to appear on the political agenda of governments and international organizations, data and appropriate models are still missing. They are crucial for measuring the quantitative dimension of these developments. It will be the main task of MEA to develop the necessary tools for quantitative analysis and subsequently provide help and advice in this area.
MEA’s analytical research includes topics related to social policy, especially retirement and saving behavior, and to the performance of public and private pensions. An important focus of research in health econometrics are econometric methods that are able to isolate causal effects which generate the gradient of health with respect to social status, using objective measures of health such as biomarkers and cognitive asessement. Another hallmark of MEA’s research is the stress on a lifecourse view, for instance when analyzing decisions on long-term care.
The core of MEA is the Max Planck Emeritus Research Group with the director, the academic coordinator and the administrative assistant. In addition, MEA has three research units:
The units are linked and cooperate intensely. For example, social policy needs micro and macroeconomic models to compare alternative and counterfactual policy options. Lifecycle decisions about saving, pensions and long-term care insurance are based on expectations about health and mortality. All three units rely on quantitative models and combine theoretical frameworkswith causal econometric analyses.
MEA was originally founded as the Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging as a part of the University of Mannheim in 2001. Its goal was to conduct research about the demographic change in Germany as well as carrying out international comparisons of the micro and macroeconomic implications ffects of population aging. The institute was initially constituted as a Public Private Partnership between the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and the German Insurance Association (GDV) but was mainly financed (85%) by public funding, among them research grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the framework programs of the European Commission, and the US National Institute on Aging (NIA).
In 2011, the institute was relocated to Munich and became the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging as the second department of the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy (MPISOC), where it was integrated as the institute’s socio-political department and generously funded by the Max Planck Society (MPG) but continued to receive substantial research grants, especially as the operational and legal coordinating hubs (“SHARE Central” and “SHARE-ERIC”) of SHARE, the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. The director’s term ended in December 2022, when he reached the MPG’s mandatory retirement age.
However, with the help of the MPG, the third incarnation of MEA was founded as a non-profit company (“gGmbH”) and is now called the Munich Research Institute for the Economics of Aging and SHARE Analyses. Funding is now exclusively through research grants from MPG, DFG, EU and NIA. The institute’s research goals – understanding the micro and macro-economic implications of the demographic change and helping to lead secular development in a direction that is beneficial for all generations – have remained the same. MEA also continues to work with the MPISOC since the Max Planck Emeritus Research Group remains part of MPISOC.