Prof. Dr. (em.) Urs Schweizer

E-mail: schweizer(at)
Phone: +49 228 73 9220
Fax: +49 228 73 92 21
Location: Institute for Economics
Institute: Department of Economics
Research Area: Research Area I
Birthdate: 11.Jan 1947
Mathscinet-Number: 193697

Academic Career


Dr. phil., University of Basel, Switzerland

1974 - 1975

Visiting Research Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Economics, Cambridge, MA, USA

1975 - 1976

Visiting Research Fellow, University of California, Department of Economics, Berkeley, CA, USA

1977 - 1981

Research Fellow, DFG Collaborative Research Center SFB 21 “Ökonomische Prognose-, Entscheidungs- und Gleichgewichtsmodelle”, University of Bonn


Habilitation, University of Bonn

1981 - 1984

Professor of Economics, University of Bielefeld

1994 - 1997

Head of the Economics Department, University of Bonn

2004 - 2008

Senator, University of Bonn

Since 1984

Professor of Economics, University of Bonn

Research Profile

After having moved from mathematics to economics, my first research topic concerned spatial aspects of general equilibrium theory. I consider [6] on the comparative statics of a residential economy and [7] on a production economy as my most important contributions from that time. Attracted by theories of fiscal decentralization, I felt the need to incorporate political decision taking into models of spatial economies. [8] is the most general version of a series of papers that departed from the idea that local landowners might be the thriving force behind decisions to spend on local public goods. I also have spent much time on exploring Buchanan’s version of a social contract as an approach to model political decision taking. Initially, I somehow got stuck with what economists call contract theory. The most important contribution from that period has turned out to be [9] even though this paper was accepted for publication with a substantial delay only. From an abstract perspective, contracts can be seen as mechanisms that are designed by the involved parties. The aim was to explain real institutions as mechanisms which are optimal, given the appropriate exogenous distribution of information among the involved parties. Unfortunately, the theory did not really deliver on its promises. As a consequence, I changed the research strategy by exploring instead the incentives that emerge from real institutions as provided by contract law and tort law. An early contribution to the economic analysis of law was [10], a paper that is still widely quoted and referred to.

Research Projects and Activities

Research Training Group “Interactive Economics Decisions”
Coordinator, 1991 - 1999

Bonn Graduate School of Economics
Coordinator, since 1998

DFG Collaborative Research Centre SFB/TR 15 “Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems”
Coordinator, 2008 - 2011

Contribution to Research Areas

Research Area I
All my publications during the initial funding period concerned the economic analysis of contract and tort law. To make use of the methods of mechanism design, institutional arrangements have to be modeled as non-cooperative games. Rational parties are assumed to play the Nash equilibria of the underlying games and, for normative conclusions, the Nash equilibria outcomes under different arrangements must be compared according to the criterion of (Pareto) efficiency. In [1] and [2], I have identified a saddle-point property as the common source for legal institutions that provide efficient incentives. In [3], I forcefully questioned the German legal practice to exclude pure economic losses from compensation under tort law. In [4], I proposed a general principle of how to compensate victims for losses of chances, a major application being harm as suffered by victims of medical malpractice. While the German legal system still advocates an all-or-nothing approach, international practice starts moving in a direction that seems more in line with efficient incentives. My latest paper [5] so far explores incentives as arising from the combination of remedies which are at the disposal of victims from breach of contract. I have identified a common principle that allows to rank incentives from different arrangements quite generally.

Selected Publications

[1] U. Schweizer
Law and economics of obligations
International Review of Law and Economics , 25: (2): 209--228
Publisher: Elsevier
[2] U. Schweizer
Cooperative investments induced by contract law
The RAND Journal of Economics , 37: (1): 134--145
Publisher: Wiley Online Library
[3] U. Schweizer
Tortious acts affecting markets
International Review of Law and Economics , 27: (1): 49--69
Publisher: Elsevier
[4] U. Schweizer
Legal damages for losses of chances
International Review of Law and Economics , 29: (2): 153--160
Publisher: Elsevier
[5] U. Schweizer
Breach Remedies, Performance Excuses, and Investment Incentives
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Publisher: Oxford Univ Press
[7] Urs Schweizer
A spatial version of the nonsubstitution theorem
J. Econom. Theory
, 19: (2): 307--320
ISSN: 0022-0531
DOI: 10.1016/0022-0531(78)90096-0
[8] Urs Schweizer
Efficient exchange with a variable number of consumers
Econometrica , 51: (3): 575--584
ISSN: 0012-9682
DOI: 10.2307/1912147
[9] Urs Schweizer
Universal possibility and impossibility results
Games Econom. Behav. , 57: (1): 73--85
ISSN: 0899-8256
DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2005.08.015
[10] U. Schweizer
Litigation and settlement under two-sided incomplete information
The Review of Economic Studies , 56: (2): 163
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Publication List


• Regional Science and Urban Economics (Managing Editor, 1980 - 1986)
• Econometrica (Associate Editor, 1989 - 1998)
• German Economic Review (Co-Editor, 2000 - 2007)


Since 2001

Regular member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts

Since 2004

Fellow of the European Economic Association



Professor of Economics, Bern, Switzerland


None during the initial funding period.

In economics, habilitation is no longer required to receive a tenured professorship. Andreas Roider, e.g., a former postdoctoral student at my chair, accepted an offer for a W3-position (full professor) from the University of Heidelberg.

Selected PhD students

Julia Nafziger (2007): “Information and Incentives in Organizations”,
now Associate Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark

Susanne Goldlücke, born as Susanne Ohlendorf (2009): “Essays on Optimal Contracts and Renegotiation”,
now Assistant Professor, University of Mannheim

Daniel Müller (2010): “Essays in Applied Microeconomics and Management”,
now Professor, University of Würzburg

Supervised Theses

  • Diplom theses: 35, currently 3
  • PhD theses: 5, currently 2
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