We are developing approaches to the economic valuation of social science research as part of our impact assessment framework. This is a challenging task because of the absence in most cases of recognisable markets for social science outputs. But we are seeking to use economic evaluation techniques where they can be applied appropriately and robustly.

Economic valuation captures one element of research impact and we recognise the importance of using such techniques within our framework for assessing the full range of research contributions to policy and practice.

Current work on impact valuation

In 2015 we commissioned a pilot economic impact evaluation study to develop valuation approaches that could support on-going valuation and/or quantification of the impact of social science. The pilot focused on known examples of impact where economic benefits had been identified and could be attributed to social science inputs. Building on the lessons from the pilot, we then commissioned two further studies to assess the economic value of a range of impact case studies from the Research Excellence Framework  2014 that had been underpinned by ESRC support. These reports are available to downloaded:

Previous work in this area

In 2008 we undertook a trial of economic impact valuation methods. The trial took the form of a study of impact at two of our research centres: the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) and the Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE). The report from this study is available to download:

Following the trial of economic evaluation methods, we commissioned two studies to assess the influence of ESRC/social science research on the development and implementation of two policy initiatives and to attempt to quantify that influence, using benchmarking data from government evaluations of these policies:

In 2011 we commissioned an exploratory study to assess the economic impact of the ESRC’s main research data infrastructure, the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS). The main purpose of the study was to develop robust estimates of the economic benefits of such data infrastructure investments, and to present the results of this economic assessment within the context of a broader qualitative analysis of the benefits of ESDS.