Carl Christian von Weizsäcker Can We Explain the Co-Evolution of Democracy and Market Economy by Adaptive Preferences?

Carl Christian von Weizsäcker is Emeritus Professor for Economics and senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany. His areas of interest include welfare economics with adaptive preferences, history of economics and social market economics. Von Weizsäcker has held teaching positions at serval high profile universities, including the University of Heidelberg, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cologne. He chaired the German Monopoly Commission and is a member of the Advisory Group of the German Minister of Economic Affairs. He has published numerous scientific articles and books and is a founding member and fellow of the European Economic Association, foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and member of Acatech (National Academy of Science and Engineering).

Area of Research

Capital Theory, Climate Policy, History of Economics, Social Market Economy, Euro-Crisis, Welfare Economics with Adaptive Preferences, Economics

Carl Christian von Weizsäcker. "Public Debt and Price Stability." German Economic Review 15 (2014): 42-61.  
Carl Christian von Weizsäcker. Wachstum, Zins und optimale Investitionsquote. Basel-Tübingen: Kyklos, 1962.  
Carl Christian von Weizsäcker. "Notes on Endogenous Change of Tastes." Journal of Economic Theory 3 (1971): 345-371.  
Carl Christian von Weizsäcker. "The Costs of Substitution." Econometrica 52 (1984): 1085-1116.  

since 2004

Senior Research Fellow

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods


Professor of Economics

University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln)


Professor of Economics

University of Bern (Universität Bern)


Professor of Economics

University of Bonn (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn)


Professor of Mathematical Economics

University of Bielefeld (Universität Bielefeld)


Professor of Economics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Professor of Economics

Heidelberg University (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg)


Researcher at the Max-Planck-Institute

Max Planck Society (more details)


Postdoctoral Fellowship

MIT and University of Cambridge


Habilitation in Economics

University of Basel (Universität Basel)


PhD in Economics

University of Basel (Universität Basel)

Thesis "Wachstum, Zins und optimale Investitionsquote"

- Director of the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (1986-2003)

- Fellow of the Econometric Society

- Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

- Founding Member and Fellow of the European Economic Association

- Member of Acatech, National Academy of Science and Engineering

- Member of the Advisory Group of the German Minister of Economic Affairs (since 1977)

- Member of the German Monopoly Commission (1986-1998, 1989-1998 Chairman)

- Member of the Nordrhein Westfalian Academy of Sciences

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

"Many goods are not obviously best provided by unregulated markets. This does not necessarily imply that government does a better job. But research can do society a service in defining why markets have a hard time with some goods, and in comparing institutional arrangements aiming at their provision. In a precise way, the problem is defined by the concept of public goods. Capitalising on the theory of mechanism design, it can be further improved. Using experimental methods, it can be put into perspective. Yet some social dilemmas are better analysed in alternative categories. It may even be preferable to start analytically from the political decision to intervene into markets. The institute tackles these questions from the combined perspectives of economics, law and psychology. While the institute started with applications from environmental problems, current work focuses on antitrust, regulation and financial stability." (Source)


In the research presented in this interview, the idea of adaptive preferences is applied to the co-evolution of democracy and market economy. CARL CHRISTIAN VON WEIZSÄCKER explains that the ideal of democracy and market economy though somehow antithetic are inter-dependent in a normative sense: While democracy provides freedom and stability, progress is only ensured by a market economy that allows for innovation.

LT Video Publication DOI:

Die normative Ko-Evolution von Marktwirtschaft und Demokratie

  • Carl Christian von Weizsäcker
  • ORDO, Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft
  • Published in 2014
Carl Christian von Weizsäcker. "Die normative Ko-Evolution von Marktwirtschaft und Demokratie." In ORDO, Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 2014: 13-43.