Message from the Director

Alan Headshot for From Past to Future

Professor Alan Barrett, Director of the ESRI

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. Brexit could change the way many Irish companies do business and potentially lead to long-lasting ramifications for economic performance. A growing and ageing population will test our provision of infrastructure and public services. Climate change obligations will require significant investment. The problem of housing supply has persisted for some time.

Progress on these issues is not inevitable. It 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. For this reason, policymakers have turned to the ESRI for almost 60 years.  

"At the Institute, we believe that knowledge and facts are the most powerful problem-solving tools for policymakers."

The Institute was founded in 1960 by a group of senior academics and public servants, led by Dr T.K. Whitaker, who identified the need for independent research to support policymaking in Ireland. Since then, the Institute has remained independent and does not take ideological positions. It has produced a large body of evidence for policymaking and contributed to public debate on a range of social and economic issues. ESRI research has been published in more than 4,500 publications.

Today teams of researchers from the fields of sociology, economics and psychology work together to break new ground across 12 research areas, to develop pioneering models and to lead a national longitudinal study. A new five-year research strategy will begin in 2019, ensuring that the Institute remains relevant by setting ambitious targets for research quality and the scope of issues investigated by our research teams.Throughout the lifetime of the strategy and into the future, the ESRI remains committed to supporting through our research a sustainable economy, an improving quality of life and greater equality of opportunity in Ireland.

"Today teams of researchers from the fields of sociology, economics and psychology work together to break new ground across 12 research areas, to develop pioneering models and to lead a national longitudinal study."

I invite you to use our website to access our work. We aim to make our work as accessible as possible and every publication published by the ESRI is available to download free of charge. You can connect with us by signing up for our newsletter and notifications, by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and by attending one of the events held throughout the year at the Institute.