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Message from the Director

Frances Ruane, Director, ESRI
Frances Ruane, Director, ESRI
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to our website and to thank all those who support and use the work of the ESRI. The ESRI remains firmly focused on providing research to inform economic and social policymaking and we look forward to publishing new research and hosting relevant events in 2014. Our recent book Using Evidence To Inform Policy, published by Gill & MacMillan, outlines what we see as the importance of evidence informing policy in Ireland and illustrates in 11 different areas how policy can be informed by careful and objective analysis.

What the Institute is and does

The ESRI is an independent research institute founded in 1960. Over the past fifty years it has established its position as an important source of independent academic research on economic and social change, which informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.

We cover a wide range of research areas and these are outlined in our current research strategyAnnually we report on our work in the form of the Institute's Review of Research which can be downloaded  here. Our latest Review covers 2012. Meanwhile current information on our Research Programme Areas can be accessed directly on the website. 

We are currently developing a new research strategy for the period 2014-2018. This strategy will be based on a review of existing activities, including our evolving relationship with the higher education sector and in particular our strategic alliance with Trinity College Dublin in the social sciences, and developments and reforms within the Irish public sector. The new strategy will be published early in 2014.


Current ESRI Research

ESRI research seeks to inform our understanding of key issues facing Irish society. At present there is a strong focus on research relevant to economic recovery and the impact of austerity. Our research continues to inform the preparation of short-term forecasts for the economy as published in the Quarterly Economic Commentary as well as medium-term forecasts for the economy as recently published in the Medium Term Review, 2013 - 2020. The recent QEC Winter 2013, in addition to reviewing the current macro position, also included two Special Articles on "Distributional Impact of Tax, Welfare and Public Service Pay Policies: Budget 2014 and Budgets 2009-2014" and  "Lost in Transition? The Labour Market Pathways of Long-term Unemployed Individuals in Ireland Pre and Post the Great Recession", and a Research Note on "The Impact of Fiscal Policy on the Economy".

The ESRI continues to undertake and publish research on the macroeconomic behaviour of the Irish economy. Researchers have recently begun a programme of research with the Central Bank of Ireland which is developing the next generation of macro models for Ireland, and a programme of research on the housing market, which is funded by NAMA and the Irish Banking Federation (view details of research in this area). 

A major new project, which started in mid-October, will produce two studies for the European Competitiveness Report 2014. It is funded by DG Enterprise and Industry. The studies are on Access to External Financing and Firm Growth, and Drivers of SMEs Internationalisation: Implications for Firm Growth and Competitiveness.  These studies are due to be published in the first half of 2014.

The Institute has also agreed a new two-year programme of research, funded by the Health and Safety Authority, which will seek to create, improve and enhance knowledge on occupational health and safety in order to provide evidence for policy on Health, Safety and Well-being at Work. The Institute is continuing research on how to fund SMEs as economic recovery takes hold, and on the impact of credit constraints on household behaviour.

Researchers at the Institute are developing computerised experiments to explore the limits of consumers’ abilities to value complex products and to choose between them. This research seeks to provide evidence for policymakers that may help them to devise policies to support consumers to make better decisions in key markets. The research [Programme of Research Investigating Consumer Evaluations] (PRICE) Lab is co-funded by the National Consumer Agency, Commission for Energy Regulation, ComReg, and the Central Bank of Ireland.

Research funded by the Department of Social Protection is focusing on analysing aspects of social inclusion using the Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) data. Research published in December 2013 explores the role of social transfers in alleviating poverty in Ireland and the capacity of indicators of financial stress to capture the impact of the recession on households

Two new projects on disability will combine data from the National Disability Survey (NDS) and 2006 Census data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to explore the factors which enable people with an emotional, psychological or mental health disability to participate in economic and social life and the experiences of children with a disability in the education system. The latest Annual Monitoring Report on Integration was published earlier in 2013, it uses a range of indicators to measure different aspects of immigrant inclusion in Irish society.

The Institute’s tax-benefit (SWITCH) model continues to be used widely to analyse the distribution effects of different fiscal proposals (Distributional Impact of Tax, Welfare and Public Sector Pay Policies: 2009-2012 ). Training on the use of this model has also been provided to staff members in the Departments of Finance and Social Protection, to assist them in exploring distributional issues associated with tax and welfare changes. These analyses were used by the Departments in the preparation of Budget 2014. The paper "Taxes on Income: Ireland in Comparative Perspective", presented at the annual ESRI "Budget Perspectives" Conference in June, looked at Ireland’s income taxes in a comparative perspective  and a further paper using SWITCH was published in the QEC in December 2013.

The ESRI’s health programme covers both population health and health services research. Current research in the area of health includes a study which examines evidence on the cost and cost effectiveness of alternative models (comprehensive, intermediate, limited) of palliative care in the Irish health-care system. A new project in this area is an economic analysis of stroke rehabilitation. It aims to examine rehabilitation services for stroke patients in the Irish health-care system, identifying patterns of use and assessing the implications (economic, health outcomes) of existing and new models of care. The project is led by researchers from the ESRI and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and is funded by the Irish Heart Foundation. The research report Ireland: Pharmaceutical Prices, Prescribing Practices and Usage of Generics in a Comparative Context assesses the level of pharmaceutical prices, the usage of generics and the prescribing practices of medical practitioners in Ireland in comparison with other EU Member States and OECD countries. This report was requested by the Troika to help inform progress on realising better value for money in the health budget.

A major change in January 2014 is the transfer of responsibility for the Hospital In Patient Enquiry (HIPE) and the National Perinatal Survey (NPRS) from the ESRI to the Hospital Pricing Office (HPO). The transfer reflects the government decision in 2013 to move to a method of funding hospitals in Ireland that is based on Money Follows the Patient. From January 1, the data collecting and analysis of the ESRI’s Health Research and Information Division will take place in the HPO.

The Growing Up in Ireland research project continues and the survey of five-year olds is now in the field. Recent events include a conference on the topic of Bullying in Children and their Health which was held in Trinity College on 11 September, and workshops to promote and support the use of the Infant Cohort datasets (Wave 1 and Wave 2). The annual GUI research conference was held on 27 November.  Further details on this major project can be found at http://www.esri.ie/Childrens_Longitudinal_Study/  

Research on education provides evidence to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of different elements of government spending on education and training. Current major projects include a large-scale multi-method longitudinal study of special classes in Irish primary and post-primary schools, and a project which is developing a five year strategic plan and associated implementation plan for SOLAS, aimed at developing a quality brand for Further Education and Training in Ireland that meets the needs of both learners and employers. A recent project studied secondary schools in Ireland, exploring differences in the ways in which the three subsectors within secondary education are funded and governed. The Institute has also identified a range of issues where it believes research could very usefully inform policy and decisions making. One such issue is how further education, higher education and other forms of post-school education and training interact at the individual and institutional level.
The Institute's research bulletin series provides short summaries of work published by ESRI staff and overviews of thematic areas covered by ESRI programmes of research

ESRI Events

So far this year, the Institute has held the following conferences and launches:

and Seminars and Workshops:

To keep abreast of forthcoming events please visit our forthcoming events webpage.

As we continue to address our major economic and fiscal challenges, the need for the ESRI’s research has never been greater. In focusing on policy-relevant research issues, the ESRI is continuing a tradition that now stretches back over  50 years. I am confident that the research activities of our research teams will continue to inform public and policy debates on how we may return to a path of sustained economic recovery and social progress.  

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