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About us

The Centre for Education Economics is an independent think tank working to improve policy and practice in education through impartial economic research.

The Centre exists for the study of education reform – to research and disseminate evidence addressed to how to improve the quality and efficiency of education services; achieve optimal outcomes for young people; and maximise the benefits of education to society as a whole.

Education is essential for many of the policy outcomes that citizens and politicians care about. As individuals, the education we receive affects our earnings, employability, and chances of succeeding in life. It also affects our health and relationships, brings us intellectual fulfilment, and relates to many other aspects of what is referred to as the 'good life'. On a national scale, the skills of our workforce matter hugely for our economic prosperity and prospects of growth. The way skills are distributed across the population is a major determinant of inequality, and the relationship of a person’s skills to their background is central to determining the degree of social or intergenerational mobility they will experience in life.

Unsurprisingly then, there has been a lot of research on education. Unfortunately, as we’ve been made increasingly aware in recent years, an awful lot of that research is of very poor quality, which over the years has created not a little confusion about what works and what doesn’t in education.

While many disciplines contribute to our understanding of education, economic analysis can offer key insights for policy-makers. It has a strongly quantitative approach, and a clear framework for understanding the decisions and actions of all those involved in the provision, regulation, and support of education services, and the interests of pupils, and those that seek to capitalise on their education – further and higher education providers and employers. And most importantly, it brings a relentless focus on trying to establish causal links between policy variables and outcomes.

Education economics is not a widely understood discipline. In general, although economics and data is increasingly at the heart of policymaking, the most crucial and basic economic ideas rarely make it into the wider education policy discussion at all. So we believe there is a pressing need to improve understanding of its role, and to invest in efforts to better communicate the important and often exciting emerging findings from this field. If this can be done, it is our conviction that education economics holds great potential as a tool to improve both efficiency and equity in education in England and beyond.

The Centre for Education Economics publishes books and in-depth policy studies, which in turn frame and inform our shorter reports and comment pieces on day-to-day education policy matters. We also run a variety of stakeholder engagement projects to inform our research and engage the public in the policy debate. We hope you'll visit us and participate in this exchange.

Read more: 'Why education economics?'