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Martin Kohli

Professor Emeritus

Department of Political and Social Sciences

Contact info

[email protected]

[+39] 055 4685 272


Badia Fiesolana, BF198

Working languages

German, English, French, Italian

Curriculum vitae

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Martin Kohli

Professor Emeritus

Department of Political and Social Sciences


Martin Kohli was born in 1942 in Solothurn (Switzerland), and studied at the Universities of Geneva, Cologne, and Bern, where he obtained his doctorate. After a few years at the Ministry of Education of the Canton of Zurich and as Assistant Professor at the University of Constance (completed by his "habilitation") he went to the Free University of Berlin in 1977 as Professor of Sociology. In Berlin he initiated and directed the Research Group on Aging and the Life Course (Forschungsgruppe Altern und Lebenslauf, FALL). From 2004-2012 he held the Chair of Sociology at the EUI. Since 2012 he is Emeritus Professor at the EUI and Distinguished Bremen Professor at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS).

He has been a Member or Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), at the Collegium Budapest, and at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study (Delmenhorst/Bremen). He has also been a Visiting Professor or Researcher at Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and from 1997-99 served as President of the European Sociological Association (ESA).

Research projects, clusters and working groups

Recent research output

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Additional information

  • Family Dynamics and Inequality (Seminar, with Fabrizio Bernardi, Spring 2012)

  • From European Societies to a European Society? (Seminar, Autumn 2011)

  • Changing Welfare States: Europe and Beyond (Seminar, Spring 2011)

  • Family, Population, Gender (Seminar, Autumn 2010)

  • Life Course and Generational Dynamics (Seminar, Spring 2010)

  • From European Societies to European Society? (Seminar, Autumn 2009)

  • Gender in the Social Sciences: From Theory to Application (Workshop, with Isabelle Engeli & Maria Vaalavuo, May 2009)

  • European Welfare States (Seminar, Spring 2009)

  • Subject and Agency (Workshop, with Christine Chwaszcza, May 2008)

  • Kinship: Historical and Contemporary Frontiers (Workshop, with Giulia Calvi & Sigrid Weigel, May 2008)

  • Towards a European Identity (Seminar, with Rainer Bauböck, Spring 2008)

  • Gender, Generations and the Family in International Migration (Conference, with Eleonore Kofman, Albert Kraler & Camille Schmoll, June 2007)

  • The Evolution of Contemporary Welfare States (Workshop, with Sven Steinmo, April 2007)

  • Generations and Intergenerational Relations (Seminar, Spring 2007)

  • Between Work and Welfare: Redefining the Boundaries of Being In or Out of Work in Europe (Workshop, with Herwig Reiter, Catherine Spieser & Annika Zorn, May 2006)

  • The Life Course Approach (Workshop, April 2006)

  • Pension Reform in Europe (Workshop, with Camila Arza & Martin Rhodes, May 2005)

Martin Kohli has contributed to establishing the life course approach in sociology and mapping its current changes.(see also the Research Group on Aging and the Life Course, Berlin).

In a series of research projects,he has focused on the changing balance of work and retirement and on its institutional underpinnings (labor markets, pension systems). He has also addressed issues of intergenerational justice and of the politics of aging.He is one of two European members of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on the Aging Society, charged with studying demographic aging and appropriate policy responses. As a counter-point, he is also participating in a similarly oriented group of the German-speaking Academies of Science on Fertility and Societal Development.

  • The Political Economy of Pension Reform
  • Aging and Justice
  • Altersgrenzen als gesellschaftliches Regulativ
  • Generationengerechtigkeit ist mehr als Rentenfinanzierung

In recent years, he has analyzed intergenerational transfers and inheritance in the family and its relation to the ‘generational contract’ in the welfare state. He has collaborated on a major European survey (SHARE) as well as on a large comparative project on Kinship and Social Security (together with anthropologists and historians), and has also engaged on a project on Generational succession in family firms in Germany and Italy.

  • Private and Public Transfers between Generations: Linking the Family and the State
  • Intergenerational Transfers and Inheritance: A Comparative View
  • Intergenerational Transfers in the Family: What Motivates Giving?
  • Erbschaften und Vermögensverteilung
  • Family Structure, Proximity and Contact

See also


  • Kohli, Martin. 2009. "The world we forgot: A historical review of the life course." Pp. 64-90 in The life course reader: Individuals and societies across time, edited by Walter R. Heinz, Johannes Huinink, and Ansgar Weymann. Frankfurt/M: Campus (reprinted from 1985)
  • Kohli, Martin. 2007. "The institutionalization of the life course: Looking back to look ahead." Research in Human Development 4:253-271.
  • Kohli, Martin. 2010. "Age groups and generations: Lines of conflict and potentials for integration " Pp. 169-185 in A young generation under pressure? The financial situation and the "rush hour" of the cohorts 1970-1985 in a generational comparison, edited by Joerg Chet Tremmel. Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Albertini, Marco, Martin Kohli, and Claudia Vogel. 2007. "Intergenerational transfers of time and money in European families: Common patterns - different regimes?" Journal of European Social Policy 17:319-334.
  • Albertini, Marco, and Martin Kohli. 2013. "The generational contract in the family: An analysis of transfer regimes in Europe." European Sociological Review 29:828-40.
  • Heady, Patrick, and Martin Kohli (Eds.). 2010. Family, kinship and state in contemporary Europe, Vol. 3: Perspectives on theory and policy. Frankfurt/M: Campus.
  • Kohli, Martin, Marco Albertini, and Harald Künemund. 2010. "Linkages among adult family generations: Evidence from comparative survey research." Pp. 195-220 in Family, kinship and state in contemporary Europe. Vol. 3: Perspectives on theory and policy, edited by Patrick Heady and Martin Kohli. Frankfurt/M: Campus.
  • Kohli, Martin, and Marco Albertini (Eds.). 2009. Minimal families: Childlessness and intergenerational transfers (Special issue of Ageing & Society, vol. 29, no. 8, November 2009, pp. 1171-1274).
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