About the ESRI

Message from the Director

Alan Barrett

Professor Alan Barrett

The ESRI produces independent, high-quality research with the objective of informing policies that support a healthy economy and promote social progress. Ireland is currently facing many challenges on both fronts. Progress requires policies that are grounded in evidence and therefore likely to act as effective solutions to complex policy challenges. At the Institute, we believe that knowledge and facts are the most powerful problem-solving tools for policymakers. Therefore our primary objective is to provide policymakers with robust, objective evidence that can translate into effective policy solutions. This, together with our independence and dedication to the highest academic standards, means that we are never distracted from our vision: informed policy for a better Ireland. 

Read the full Message from the Director


T.K. Whitaker at the unveiling of his portrait in the ESRI

The Institute was founded in 1960 by a group of senior civil servants, led by Dr T.K. Whitaker, who identified the need for independent and in-depth research to support the policymaking process in Ireland. Since then, the Institute has remained committed to independent research and its work is free of any expressed ideology or political position. The Institute publishes all research reaching the appropriate academic standard, irrespective of its findings or who funds the research.

Read more about Institute’s commitment to independence here

Read about the establishment of the Institute here.

Research Quality

Graph with financial data

The quality of the Institute’s research output is guaranteed by a rigorous peer review process, during which research outputs are examined and critiqued by both internal and external referees. Research is published only when it meets the required standards and practices. Research quality has also been assessed as part of two peer reviews of the Institute, in 2010 and 2016. The reports from the peer review panels are available to download here. 

Research priorities are determined during the strategic planning process, which takes place every 5 years. Under the current ESRI Research Strategy (2019-2023), research activities are structured around 11 key policy areas. Find out more about the Institute’s research areas here.


ESRI People

The ESRI brings together leading experts from different disciplines who work together to break new ground across a number of research initiatives. Their expertise is widely recognised in public life. Researchers are represented on the boards and advisory committees of several national and international organisations, including the Central Statistics Office and the International Labor Organization. 

Researchers have addressed a number of Oireachtas Committees in recent years, including the Committee on Budgetary Oversight, the Committee on Health and the Committee on Climate Action. ESRI Director Alan Barrett has chaired the National Economic Dialogue for four consecutive years (2015-2018). Read more about our people here.


Alan Barrett speaking at conference

ESRI research findings are disseminated widely in books, journals and peer-reviewed reports. Reports published by the ESRI are available to download, free of charge, from its website. Additionally, ESRI staff members communicate research findings at regular conferences and seminars, which provide a platform for representatives from government, civil society and academia to discuss key findings from recently published studies and ongoing work.  

The ESRI publishes a Review of Research on an annual basis to provide an overview of published research and ongoing research initiatives. Research findings are also communicated through the Institute’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.


Sign in ESRI building that says "Economic and Social Research Institute"

The ESRI is a company limited by guarantee, answerable to its members and governed by a Council, comprising 14 members who represent a cross-section of ESRI members: academia, civil service, state agencies, businesses and civil society.

Find out more about ESRI Governance here.

Funding and Membership

Pashcal Donohoe opening the ESRI Budget Perspectives conference in 2018

The Institute receives an annual grant-in-aid from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The grant has accounted for approximately 25 per cent of the Institute’s income over the last five years. The remaining funding comes from research programmes with government departments and agencies, competitive research projects and membership fees.  

Membership fees support the independence of the Institute and ensure that the impartial voice of the ESRI continues to support both the policymaking process and public debate on key social and economic issues in Ireland. Find out more about funding here and membership here.