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Economic and Social Research Institute

Economic and Social Research Institute
Limited Company
Genre Economic and Social Research
Founded 1960
Headquarters Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland
Area served
Key people
Laurence Crowley, Chairman; Frances Ruane, Director
Products Economic and Social Research that informs Public Policymaking and Civil Society
Website ESRI website

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) is an independent research institute in Dublin, Ireland. Its research, primarily government-funded, focuses on Ireland's economic and social development to inform policy-making and societal understanding.

The institute has played a role in informing national debates since the 1960s, such as joining the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, undertaking the National Development Plan, and initiating policies to combat poverty.

Roy C. Geary was the founding director of the ESRI (1959–66). The current director is Frances P. Ruane (2006–), who succeeded Brendan Whelan.

The Economic and Social Research Institute and Trinity College Dublin agreed to a strategic partnership[1] in July 2010. The agreement enables both institutions to build collaborative and complementary strengths in the social sciences.


  • History 1
  • Fields of study 2
  • Publications 3
  • Governance 4
  • Funding 5
  • Criticism 6
  • Sources 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The Economic Research Institute was founded in 1960 by the Irish Government with funding support from the US-based Ford Foundation. In 1965, the remit of the organisation was expanded to include social research, and this was reflected in a change of name to the Economic and Social Research Institute.

Since the 1960s, the ESRI has been instrumental in helping to build the disciplines of economics, political science and sociology in Ireland. The Institute has contributed directly to the postgraduate education of several hundred graduates[2] who now work in a research capacity at universities and research institutions in Ireland, Europe and North America. Former researchers[3] are working in senior roles in the public sector, in international organisations, representative organisations and in financial services.

The ESRI's current mission[2] is to produce research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland. Its research is disseminated through publications, seminars and media contributions.

The Central Bank of Ireland continually ignored warnings from the Institute about the dangerous scale of bank loans to property speculators and developers before the banking system collapsed in 2008/2009.[4]

Since its foundation, the Institute has continued to develop and implement a sustainable research agenda that matches closely the long-term economic and social challenges facing Ireland. In addition to producing a range of research outputs, its researchers have contributed to dozens of expert committees and commissions set up by the Irish government and various European Commission bodies.

Fields of study

Within the field of sociology, the ESRI has made major contributions[5] in the fields of social mobility, income distribution, education, equality studies, labour market studies, and more recently in areas such as ageing, health, migration and sexuality.

Within the field of economics, the ESRI has made major contributions[5] to the study of economic growth, monetary union, public finance, transport, and more recently in areas such as the environment, competition and regulation, and housing.

Children's longitudinal Survey (NLSCI) – "Growing Up in Ireland"[6] is a Government-funded study led by researchers in the Economic and Social Research Institute and Trinity College Dublin. The most significant study of its kind ever to take place in Ireland, the main aim is to paint a full picture of children in Ireland and how they are developing in the current social, economic and cultural environment. It measures the factors that affect the well-being of children in Irish families and contribute to the future design of policies and services to ensure all children can have the best possible start in life. The study is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

The ESRI has been noted for its strength in quantitative research methods. It is listed by IDEAS/RePEc among the top 20 economic think tanks in the world.[7] The ESRI was also highly ranked in a recent assessment of economics research in Ireland.[8]


The Institute's research is disseminated through ESRI publications, academic journals, books and government reports. The Research Series contains peer reviewed research on areas covered by the ESRI's research programmes. The Research Bulletin series provides summaries of ESRI research published in peer reviewed journals and major reports.

The ESRI produces a monthly survey of consumer sentiment[9] and a monthly savings index.[10] Every quarter it assesses recent trends in the Irish economy and provides a short-term outlook in the Quarterly Economic Commentary.[11] On a regular basis, the ESRI produces a 20-year forecast for economic development in the Medium-Term Review.[12]

ESRI researchers publish regularly in two independent national journals [the Economic and Social Review[13] and the Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland[14]] as well as international journals in relevant fields. The majority of the ESRI's own publications[15] are available for download from the Institute website.


The Institute is incorporated as a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status, registered as a company limited by guarantee. Its Board is an independent Council consisting of up to 14 members, including the Director. Having an independent Council is central to the established understanding that the Institute is fully independent[16] of government, despite the fact that most of its funding comes, directly or indirectly, from government departments and agencies. Members of the Council include researchers, policy makers, business people and representatives of civil society. Members operate in a personal capacity and do not represent their organisations or professional groups. In association with the Director and staff, the Council develops the Institute's programme of research and ensures that the Institute has peer review processes in place to guarantee the academic quality of the research produced. In addition to the Council, the Institute has a consultative Forum of key stakeholders representing the social partners, Government Departments, State agencies, universities and other research institutes.


The Institute receives an annual government grant-in-aid to support the scientific and public interest elements of the Institute's activities. It accounts for around 25% of the Institute's income. Other funding comes from:

• major research programme agreements with government departments and state agencies;

• specific research projects commissioned by government departments, state agencies and international bodies such as the European Commission;

• membership subscriptions;

• sale of publications;

• sponsorship by Irish business.


Caveat lector: Apart from this comment,this WorldHeritage page has been written, in its entirety, by the ESRI itself.

In February 2010, the Institute conceded that mistakes were made in its controversial study into waste policy.[17] However, correction of these errors did not change the substance of the recommendations.[18]

In January 2012, economist Richard Tol left the ESRI, questioning the independence of the group in relation to the funding it receives.[19] The Institute's perspective on its independence was published in The Irish Times on 12 January 2012.[16]


• Conniffe, D. (ed). Roy Geary, 1896–1983, Irish Statistician, Centenary Lecture by John E. Spencer and Associated Papers. 1997. Oak Tree Press. Dublin.
• Conway, B. 2006. 'Foreigners, faith and fatherland: the historical origins, development and present status of Irish sociology'. Sociological Origins – special supplement. Fall 2006.
• Jackson, J. 2004. 'Research policy and practice in Ireland: A historical perspective'. In M. MacLachlan & M. Caball (eds) Social science in the knowledge society: Research policy in Ireland. Liffey Press. Dublin.
• Murray, P. 2009. ‘Shaping Social Science Research’. Facilitating the Future? US Aid, European Integration and Irish Industrial Viability, 1948–73. UCD Press. Dublin.
• Ruane, F. and Whelan, B.2010–2011. "Building Research Capacity in the Social Sciences – Alternatives Approaches", Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, Vol. 40. pp133-151.
• Tovey, H. & Share, P. 2003. A sociology of Ireland. Gill and Macmillan. Dublin.


  1. ^ "New Strategic Partnership between TCD and the ESRI". TCD. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "ESRI Fellowship Holders 1960 to 2004". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Research Alumni". ESRI. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Central Bank 'ignored my warnings' before economic crash - ESRI's FitzGerald". Breaking 11 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Research Areas". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  6. ^ "Children's Longitudinal Survey / Growing Up in Ireland". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "Top 25% Think Tanks, as of April 2013". IDEAS/RePEc. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  8. ^  
  9. ^ "Consumer Sentiment". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "Savings Index". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "Quarterly Economic Commentary". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "Medium-term Review". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Economic and Social Review". Economic and Social Studies. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland". The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "Search for a Publication". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Independence, Transparency Key to Research Work of ESRI". ESRI. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Brennan, Michael (8 February 2010). "Think-tank admits mistakes in waste policy study". Irish Independent. 
  18. ^ "Response by ESRI Authors to Comments on An Economic Approach to Municipal Waste Management in Ireland". ESRI. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Economist warns of 10 more years of austerity". RTÉ News. 2 January 2012. 

External links

  • Official site
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