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KfW and the German Economic Association award the renowned sponsorship prize recognising young development researchers

Press Release from 2020-07-20 / Group, KfW Development Bank

  • 11th edition of the awards for scientific excellence and practical relevance
  • Research focal points: incentivisation systems in the water sector and conservation, and health economics

For the eleventh time, KfW Development Bank and the Research Group on Development Economics at the German Economic Association (Verein für Socialpolitik) have awarded the sponsorship prize for excellent, practice-oriented development research. The award recognises three scientists whose PhD theses superbly combine academic excellence and practical relevance.

“KfW sees science as a strong partner that helps us to interrogate our work, evaluate it and constantly improve in order to keep meeting our own high quality standards going forward. With the sponsorship prize we want to encourage the dialogue between science and practice that is so important,” said Professor Dr Joachim Nagel, member of KfW Group’s Executive Board.

“KfW’s sponsorship prize has become a renowned and highly respected award among young development researchers in German-speaking countries. The requirement for the prizewinners to combine scientific excellence with practice-oriented research highlights exactly what this is all about and creates an incentive for which we are very grateful to KfW,” said Professor Dr Michael Grimm, Chair of the Research Group on Development Economics at the German Economic Association.

First prize goes to Dr Sebastian Tonke (completed his PhD at the University of Cologne, works at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn) for his thesis in the field of behavioural economics, in which he investigates the effectiveness of simple and cost-effective interventions (“nudges”) in protecting water as a resource. The work delivers relevant findings about households’ willingness to pay and save, and thus about sustainable operation of water infrastructure. It also helps readers to better understand what “nudges” means in the context of behavioural economics. These are “gentle” incentives towards behavioural changes that have huge potential, especially for those sectors where traditional policy instruments, such as bans or regulation via pricing mechanisms, can only be used to a limited extent. “Nudges” became generally known in 2017 when Richard H. Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research into them.

Second prize goes to Dr Bosco Lliso (completed his PhD at Osnabrück University, works at the Basque Center for Climate Change, Bilbao, Spain). In his dissertation, the researcher examines the effects of explicitly considering various dimensions of social fairness (including fairness of distribution and procedural fairness) on the effectiveness of systems when designing the Payments for Ecosystem Services approaches used in climate and environmental protection. These approaches denote an incentivisation mechanism that offers financial compensation to those who provide or preserve important ecosystems, such as residents of a nature reserve who are economically dependent on the flora and fauna that need protection. The results of the research challenge the widely-held view of fair distribution and effectiveness as opposites.

Third prize went to Dr Cara Ebert (RWI Essen) for her thesis on the economics of development and healthcare. The researcher, who completed her PhD at the University of Göttingen, investigates how pre-birth preference for a son impacts children’s cognitive development prospects and the effectiveness of measures to prevent iron deficiency, one of the most common deficiency diseases among children.

Due to the current situation with coronavirus, the prize-giving ceremony, which would normally take place at the annual conference of the German Economic Association Research Group on Development Economics, has sadly had to be postponed until next year.

Information about KfW Development Bank can be found at www.kfw-entwicklungsbank.de.


Portrait von Dr. Charis Pöthig

Dr Charis Pöthig


+49 69 74 31 46 83


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