ESRI research on taxation, welfare and pensions examines the impact of actual policy changes on real households and explores “what if” questions about the effects of future policy changes of interest. The aim is to inform policy debate and policy choices using nationally representative data. Much of the work is based around SWITCH, the ESRI tax-benefit model (Simulating Welfare and Income Tax Changes), which uses detailed data on the incomes and other tax and welfare relevant characteristics of the CSO’s Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). SWITCH simulates how households are affected by the rules of the current system, and by proposed reforms.
Recently, research has focused on the impact of the recession on household incomes and on financial incentives to work. In addition, the ESRI microsimulation model, SWITCH, was expanded to analyse issues relating to income-related entitlements to health services, such as medical and GP visit cards. The research programme was supported by prioritised funding from the grant in aid, and funding from the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Health.