Economic Advantage and Disadvantage

Through our Economic Advantage and Disadvantage programme we fund research and innovation projects in five broad areas: 

  • work and income
  • wealth, savings, and debt
  • consumption and living standards
  • tax and welfare, and
  • the distribution of any of these (between individuals, households, generations, regions, etc.), and examination of the way they are related.

We are interested in the distribution of all aspects of individual and household economic well-being, from poverty and benefits to wealth and savings. We are also interested in the factors that drive them, from labour markets to tax policies. Finally, we are interested in work that looks at the causal role played by economic disadvantage and advantage on both economic and non-economic outcomes.   

Influence on policy and practice

As with all our work, we are interested in issues that will, in the short or medium term, have an influence on policy or practice, whether by informing public discussion and debate, setting a formative agenda for evaluating policy, understanding the impacts of policies or understanding behaviour relating to policy in this area.

A particular interest is projects that further the understanding of behaviour or behavioural change, either by use of analytic techniques or modelling, or experimental interventions. In this area there may also be scope for considering quasi-experimental variation caused by policy or other changes, though of course this may pose difficulties in generalising to broader conclusions about behaviour in other contexts.

Types of project

Research proposals may be for either descriptive or causal research (or a mixture) but should be clear about their aims. Proposals for descriptive research need to be clear about their purpose: are they innovative, will they help particular audiences see matters in a new light or ensure better informed public debate? Even so, we expect these proposals to demonstrate they understand relevant behavioural or causal mechanisms.

Proposals may be about individuals, families or households, but again should be clear about their unit of analyses. We are particularly interested in dynamics and the use of appropriate large-scale cohort and longitudinal data to illuminate this. The use of administrative data is also of interest to us.

We are more interested in research that asks clear and important questions and seeks to answer them using various appropriate data sources, than in projects that focus on only one dataset and then later seeks to interrogate other datasets to examine the same issue.

Where international comparisons may illuminate UK data or policies, we are happy to consider projects that include them.

Emerging themes

In addition to our existing funding priorities, we are calling for applications that examine:

  • Significant structural shifts in British society – demography, social geography, family structures, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, mental health, disability and other vulnerability.
  • The impact of technology on social and economic outcomes, on skills necessary for the modern labour market, and on the wider issue of social relationships and personal identity in a data-driven economy and digital culture.
  • The relationship between trust in data, evidence and institutional authority, and popular values and beliefs.
  • The balance between the protection of individuals and personal responsibility in fostering individual and collective well-being in civic society.
  • Inequalities within and between different generations.
Interested in applying? 

For information about submitting an application see our how to apply page.