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What we do

Here is a sample of the sorts of issues we investigate. See our research section for details of current projects. See also our strategic framework for an outline of our aims and how we set about achieving them and our quality standards for details of how our systems and practices are designed to ensure that every stage of the research process is carried out to a very high standard.

Taxes and welfare

Governments tax and spend to provide services, redistribute income and influence the behaviour of individuals and firms. Among the questions we ask: Who wins and loses from the Budget? Is there a rationale for National Insurance? Would higher alcohol duties raise revenue? How heavy is the tax burden on business? How is labour supply affected by the structure of the tax and benefit system?

Public finance and public services

The coalition government has implemented a combination of tax increases and spending cuts in order to meet its stated goals for reducing the budget deficit. This has involved difficult choices over which types of families should see their incomes reduced (through either tax increases or benefit cuts) and which areas of public service provision should be cut back. Among the questions we ask: Are the government's policies sufficient to close the hole? How sensible are its fiscal targets? What are the pros and cons of alternative tax and spending measures? What are the likely implications of current policies for spending on different areas of public services?

Inequality and education

Education can improve people's lifetime incomes, helping tackle poverty and inequality. Among the questions we ask: What are the financial returns from education? Does pre-school learning offer value for money? Do student loans disadvantage the poor? Why does inequality show different trends for income and spending? Can we learn more about the welfare of the very poorest? How can the government hit its child poverty target?

Productivity and competition

Greater competitiveness, productivity and firm performance are the foundations for growth in living standards. Among the questions we ask: In what sectors does UK productivity lag behind the US? Should tax credits be used to encourage R&D? How do product and labour market reforms interact? How does overseas competition affect wages? Does dividend taxation affect investment? What are the determinants of firms' decisions over where to locate innovative activity?

Spending and saving

Understanding how consumers decide what to spend and save is essential for monetary, fiscal and competition policy. Among the questions we ask: Are people saving enough for retirement? Is the pension system affordable? How do house prices affect spending? How do people insure against unexpected income changes? Does inflation measure the prices shoppers really pay?

Development and poverty reduction

Poverty reduction requires policies to help poor people invest in their human capital. Among the questions we ask: Do education subsidies in Latin America improve school enrolment? What are the causal effects of health and nutrition on economic outcomes such as labour attainment and labour market success? What is the impact of microcredit on borrowers and their households? Do political pressures hamper policy evaluation?

Tax law and administration

Good tax policy depends on the legal process and administration, not just economics. Among the questions we ask: Is parliament involved early enough in making tax law? Is the legal treatment of same-sex couples coherent? Are the employed and self-employed treated equitably?

Methodology and evaluation

To evaluate policies rigorously - and help others do so - we develop micro-econometric techniques and pass on our skills to other researchers, civil servants, regulators and private sector economists.

Find out more about who we are
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Contact details
The Institute for Fiscal Studies
7 Ridgmount Street,
WC1E 7AE.      See map

tel: 020 7291 4800
fax: 020 7323 4780