The National Institute of Economic and Social Research: The Shifting Fortunes of Expert Arbiters

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Science, Knowledge and Policy book series (SKP)


The National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) is one of the oldest and most reputed policy research organisations in the UK, with roots in post-war economic decision-making and strong links with academics and economists at the Bank of England. As an organisation that produces econometric forecasts and research funded by government departments, it faced two main challenges after 2008; first, a growing mistrust of their work—even if demand for it grew—as they were seen to have failed to foresee the crisis; second, a tighter budget following cuts to public spending on research. As a result, NIESR hired a new director in 2011 who successfully raised the public profile of the organisation while expanding the types of funding it pursued. However, NIESR also faced ever more frequent challenges from defenders of the government’s austerity programme. Critics argued NIESR had become politicised, even if its researchers claimed to merely be bringing attention to the economic evidence in a public debate in which the latter was mostly absent.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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