ASK Award 2023
David Ausserhofer

A.SK Social Science Award 2023 for outstanding research

In a moving award ceremony economist Daron Acemoglu was honoured with the A.SK Social Science Award 2023 on 14th November. With the award, the WZB recognizes his research on determinants of prosperity and political stability of economies. With a prize money of 100,000 euros, the A.SK Award is one of the most highly endowed awards in the social sciences worldwide. This year, for the first time, the work of two younger social researchers was recognized. Filiz Garip (Princeton University) and Stefanie Stantcheva (Harvard University) have received “A.SK Bright Mind Awards”.

In her welcome adress, Dorothea Kübler, chair of the jury, paid tribute to the three award winners who, in these difficult times with many crises in the world, have dedicated their work with great energy and commitment to researching our problems - and developing possible solutions.

In her laudatory speech for the award winner, Nicola Brandt, Head of the OECD Centre Berlin, emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of Daron Acemoglu's research and his enjoyment of cooperation, his excellent scientific work and his productivity.

Daron Acemoglu researches and teaches as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For thirty years, he has studied the historical origins of wealth and poverty and the impact of new technologies on economic growth, employment, and inequality. In his work he shows that it is not, as is often assumed, geography, climate and culture that determine the prosperity of a country. Rather, stable social institutions are needed. This means, among other things, secure property rights, a neutral legal system, and public services that create fair conditions for everyone.

In his moving speech, Daron Acemoglu talked about his beginnings as a teenager in Turkey, when he had asked himself questions and wanted to understand "why some countries were rich and others not so much, why some countries were growing and others stagnating and appeared trapped in economic quagmire, why some countries where democratic and others not". This questions  accompanied him on his way to university and later to research in the US and UK. During the ceremony he shared this moving journey through the social and economic sciences with the audience. 

Also Filiz Garip (Princeton University) recalled in her acceptance speech how much her own life story has shaped her research interests. She researches migration and outlined that she was influenced by her own emigration history and that of her parents. Her research includes the migration of Mexican immigrants to the USA, which has changed significantly in recent decades. Stefanie Stantcheva (Harvard University) was unable to accept the award in person in Berlin.

In his book “Why Nations Fail”, he develops a theory of how good and inclusive institutions promote growth by stimulating investment and innovation and giving all people the opportunity to put their talents to good use. In his book “Power and Progress”, published in 2023, he devotes himself to technical change and shows that the benefits of progress only accrue to a few. This inequality threatens not least democracy. Also with regard to artificial intelligence, he therefore advocates strong control of the market by the state.

The A.SK Social Science Award is donated by Chinese entrepreneurs Angela and Shu Kai Chan. It has been awarded by the WZB every two years since 2007. The prize is bestowed upon researchers from the social sciences who have made an important contribution to political and economic reform. We would like to thank the Chan family's sons, Alex Chen and Tony Chan, for continuing the A.SK Social Science Award and for their participation in the award ceremony on November 14.

14/11/23 kes