What is an 'Economic Think Tank'

An economic think tank is an organization whose mission it is to study and reflect on economic issues. Economic think tanks are essentially economic policy institutes that work to develop and propose economic strategies and policies to benefit the overall economy. Economic think tanks can be privately funded, and as such can be under scrutiny for being biased towards the needs or special interests of the donor(s).

BREAKING DOWN 'Economic Think Tank'

Economic think tanks are intellectual organizations focused on economic policies and issues. Although many countries support their own economic think tanks, increased globalization has brought about a new trend in the cooperation between those of different countries. Several well-known economic think tanks are based in Washington, D.C., including the Brookings Institution, The Economic Policy Institute, which focuses on the economic condition of low- and middle-income Americans and their families, The American Enterprise Institute, The Peterson Institute for International Economics. The National Bureau of Economic Research is based in Cambridge, MA.

Ranking Economic Think Tanks

Each year, the University of Pennsylvania conducts research to understand the role think tanks play in governments and civil societies and to examine the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations. For the 11th consecutive year, the university has published the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index. For the assessment of think tanks, experts from University of Pennsylvania used more than 28 different ranking criteria, e.g. the quality and reputation of the think tank’s staff and research, utilization of research and policy proposals, media reputation and digital presence, effective management, ability to bridge the gap between the academic and policymaking communities and many more.

In the University of Pennsylvania report's category of top domestic economic policy think tanks, the top seven think tanks were Brookings Institution, the Adam Smith Institute, National Bureau of Economic Research, Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Heritage Foundation, Bruegel, and Center for American Progress. The university explains in their Global Go Think Tank Index that the top economic think tanks provide superior, innovative research and strategic analysis of domestic economic policy, which covers a wide range of topics such as the money supply and interest rates, macro and microeconomics, trade and investments, and various other economic concerns that are influenced by the government. The top think tanks must also excel in research, analysis and public engagement on a wide range of policy issues with the aim of improving the overall quality of life in one of the relevant countries.

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