Economics centre led by UCL academics granted Research Institute status

The UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has granted Research Institute status to a leading economics research centre led by UCL academics.

The Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy (CPP) at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) is directed by Professor Sir Richard Blundell (UCL Economics) and co-directed by UCL Economics Professors Orazio Attanasio, Eric French and Imran Rasul.

This status acknowledges that the CPP has demonstrated a significant and long-term impact on public policy debates, particularly in economic and fiscal policy. Announced by Sir Mark Walport, it is one of only two research centres in social sciences in the UK to be awarded this new status.

The CPP is also recognised for its excellence in developing new young researchers, many of whom have gone on to take leading roles in public policy, the media and academia.

Through building expertise and skills, the CPP has enabled itself to be at the heart of UK public policy debate and compete at an international level.

Highlights from the CPP’s past include:

  • Being at the forefront of the empirical revolution, meaning that fine-grained data on individuals, households and firms is now used widely in academic research and in public policy to better understand behaviour and improve people’s lives.
  • Leading the collection and analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, and most recently being among the first to analyse administrative data linking school, higher education and tax records, laying rigorous foundations for in-depth and independent research which makes a lasting public policy impact.
  • Being the first to unpick the causal impact of A-levels and university degrees on individual earnings, showing that these ’returns’ were 50% overestimated if family background and early years ability was ignored.

The added certainty over long-term funding that the ESRC research institute status provides will allow the CPP to focus on delivering its future agenda. This includes carrying out an ambitious programme of work on inequality, helping design policies to deal with an ageing society, addressing the key challenges of growth and innovation and interrogating the sustainability of the tax and welfare system and its effectiveness in a global environment.

"We are very proud to be given ESRC Research Institute status. The funding that the CPP has received over the past 25 years has allowed us to bring rigorous evidence-based research to the analysis of public policy.

It has allowed us to respond swiftly, authoritatively and independently to the changing public policy debate. The Research Institute status will enable us to continue growing our global leadership in research and enhance our public policy influence. It will also help us to continue our mission of building the next generation of economists," said Professor Sir Richard Blundell.