University of Essex

Improving lives with authoritative social and economic research

The University of Essex’s Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) has been at the forefront of social science research since 1989, building an understanding of how people’s lives are changing over time and influencing policy.

Understanding how societies are changing is a complex task, covering a range of interdependent issues such as the economy, tax, employment, social affairs and demography. ISER has a long history of providing authoritative research analysis and conclusions to government and the public service on these issues.

The Institute takes a multidisciplinary approach, has close partnerships with the policy community and can gather and analyse large volumes of data. Its “Understanding Society” panel study contains data from 40,000 UK households and is the largest of its kind, helping to uncover a wide range of insights into real people’s lives. For example, the panel has shown that working long hours is linked to depression in women and that half of people who are on the minimum wage move on to better paid jobs within a year.

The Institute’s work has an impact at a regional, national and international level. Its EUROMOD tax/benefit microsimulation model is widely used by the European Commission and this same expertise is now being used in developing countries. ISER’s new method of assessing poverty was influential in the 2010 Child Poverty Act and the 2012 Welfare Reform Act. It has done extensive work in understanding and explaining social inequalities and ethnic change in the UK.


Images ©Anthony Cullen