Institute of Economic Affairs

The IEA is the UK’s original free-market think-tank, founded in 1955. Our mission is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. Given the current economic challenges facing Britain and the wider global environment, it is more vital than ever that we promote the intellectual case for a free economy, low taxes, freedom in education, health and welfare and lower levels of regulation.

The IEA also challenges people to think about the correct role of institutions, property rights and the rule of law in creating a society that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship and the efficient use of environmental resources.

The IEA is an educational charity (No CC 235 351) and independent research institute limited by guarantee. Ideas and policies produced by the Institute are freely available from our website for any individual or organisation to adopt, but we do not “sell” policy. The Institute is entirely independent of any political party or group, and is entirely funded by voluntary donations from individuals, companies and foundations who want to support its work, plus income from book sales and conferences. It does no contract work and accepts no money from government.

Established in 1955 by the late Sir Antony Fisher and Lord Harris, the IEA’s first Director General, and joined by Arthur Seldon as the first Editorial Advisor, the IEA has a long and proud history.


Latest reports

Debanked

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs examines the economic and social consequences of anti-money laundering regulation. Debanking became a news story in 2023 when Nigel Farage alleged that Coutts had closed his account because its executives disapproved of his political opinions. A study by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) revealed...

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Imperial measurement

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs offers a cost–benefit analysis of western colonialism. In recent years, we have seen a renewed interest in Britain’s imperialist past: the British Empire, the slave trade and the Caribbean slave labour plantations. More precisely, we have seen a revival of the idea that the...

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Home win

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs discusses a future scenario where Britain has solved its housing crisis. This paper is written in the style of a report from the future (the year 2035), or more precisely, from a possible future, in which Britain has successfully solved its housing crisis. Looking...

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Wealth generation

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs looks at how to boost income mobility in the UK. Many argue that income mobility is declining. This applies to all types of income mobility (relative and absolute; intergenerational and intragenerational). As remedies, those who worry and others who want to improve mobility tend...

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Graphic content

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs looks at how red tape is fuelling the cost of living crisis. Red tape significantly contributes to the higher cost of living in the United Kingdom. The Consumer Price Index increased by 80% between 2000 and 2023. However, there is significant price variability across...

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The experience of free banking

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs looks at a banking system in which banks issue their own notes under competitive conditions. Free banking is a banking system in which banks issue their own notes under competitive conditions while typically operating on a commodity standard, in the absence of a central...

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Prohibition 2.0

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs critiques the generational tobacco ban. The UK government is proposing a generational ban on tobacco sales to anyone born after 2008, overturning the fundamental principle that adults should have autonomy over their own bodies. The generational ban will create absurd situations, such as a...

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Transgender ideology: A new threat to liberal values

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs looks at proposed laws facilitating gender self-identification. Transgender ideology and the rights of trans people to dress or present themselves as they wish must be distinguished. One can challenge the former while affirming the latter. Proposed laws facilitating gender self-identification have serious implications for...

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Alcohol advertising: What does the evidence show?

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs looks at the empirical evidence of alcohol advertising. The economics literature shows that advertising can increase the sale of individual brands but, in mature markets, does not increase aggregate sales of the type of product being advertised. Public health campaigners claim that a ban...

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Hayek on competition

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs looks at arguments for liberal antitrust for a digital age. Competition is a discovery process between rival firms and can only be explained if the information is imperfect. Competition is the most effective way to coordinate economic activity by disseminating the information and knowledge...

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Breaking the news?

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs looks at whether digital platforms be required to fund news publishers. A new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs warns government against intervening in the relationship between digital platforms and legacy media. Breaking the News?, by IEA Head of Public Policy Matthew Lesh,...

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Setting universities free

This report from UK think tank the IEA looks at how to deliver a sustainable student funding system. The provision of a higher education to a student is a service like few others. For the service to deliver value requires the active participation of the recipient. Even then, the range of possible outcomes – whether...

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Transparency in the Subsidy Control Bill

This report from UK think tank the IEA looks at principles that public authorities must follow when granting subsidies. The Subsidy Control Bill (‘the Bill’) could make it easier for public authorities to provide economically damaging subsidies – by moving away from the European Union’s state aid process and reducing transparency requirements. The Bill outlines...

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