The Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research is a research-only, academic department in the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Melbourne. With 60 years' experience as a distinguished economic and social policy research institution, the Melbourne Institute has a long-standing engagement with Australian economic and social policy, informing and shaping policy by using economic frameworks supported by its strength in building data and undertaking rigorous statistical analysis. The Melbourne Institute has expertise in data analysis, survey methodology, running field experiments and randomised control trials, and working with administrative and proprietary data. The Melbourne Institute is home to over 50 accomplished researchers with international reputations for publishing in top academic journals as well providing high-quality, independent and impartial applied research for government, business and community groups.
The Melbourne Institute works closely with Commonwealth and state departments to establish key economic and social policy questions to study, to design improved policies or interventions, and to evaluate the impact of these new policies and interventions. Over the last 60 years, the Melbourne Institute has undertaken many meaningful research projects with significant impact. Working with the Department of Social Services, the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey is Australia’s world-renowned household survey that has been undertaken since the early 2000s. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers recognised the lack of information available on how Australia was coping with the pandemic from a social and economic perspective. This resulted in the commencement of the Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) survey which has quickly become a key source of current insights into a wide range of issues faced by Australians.
The Melbourne Institute also has a long-standing engagement with macroeconomic policy through the Consumer Attitudes, Sentiments and Expectations in Australia (CASiE) survey, its monthly Inflation Gauge and related reports on the economy. It is also engaged on issues related to health, especially through its work on the healthcare workforce and aged care, education and training, early childhood development, and employment and skills. The Melbourne Institute has been involved in producing the Poverty Lines quarterly reports and other social indicator reports such as the Social Exclusion Monitor (in partnership with the Brotherhood of St Laurence) and the Household Expenditure Measure.
The Melbourne Institute’s work in tackling poverty and disadvantage harks back its founding director, Ronald Henderson. We continue to seek to understand and find solutions for ending poverty in Australia on a number of fronts. This includes a partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation, serving as the Melbourne node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (The Life Course Centre), targeted projects such as involvement in the evaluation of Early Years Education Programs in Victoria and Queensland, and evaluations of social housing programs in New South Wales. In recent years, the Melbourne Institute’s work has also expanded beyond Australia to include a range of studies to better understand disadvantage in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Melbourne Institute is dominant in its involvement in economic and social policy not only due to the rigour of its research but through its service on many national and international advisory groups and ongoing collaboration with a range of academic and policy-oriented organisations and government departments. It also is known for its convening of a range of experts to discuss and inform the understanding of pressing issues in Australia. For more than 20 years it has partnered with The Australian in the delivery of the Economic and Social Outlook Conference.
As Australia has moved towards a consensus of wanting more evidence-based analysis and policy-making, the Melbourne Institute has evolved to include as part of its suite of data and analytics services the creation of the secure Melbourne Institute Data Laboratory for the purposes of creating, housing, curating and analysing data. Through this laboratory, the Melbourne Institute is paving the way for stronger collaboration with data custodians to ensure analysts from a range of organisations will have better and more timely access to data through the creation of shared data environments.
As Australia’s leading applied economics and social policy research centre, the Melbourne Institute’s mission is to:
- Undertake and publish high-quality academic research on major economic and social policy issues affecting contemporary Australia
- Foster informed discussion and debate on domestic public policy
- Provide highly valued research services, publications and datasets to government, business and community groups
- Become internationally renowned for its expertise and contributions to international research, and
- Provide quality research training through an internationally recognised PhD program.
To find out more about the Melbourne Institute and its contributions to economic and social policy in Australia, visit our history page.
The Melbourne Institute Advisory Board provides strategic advice on the successful operation of the Institute, with particular focus on research and engagement.
Meeting at regular intervals, board members use their in-depth knowledge of industry and policy to ensure that the Melbourne Institute remains the world’s leading research centre on economic and social policy in Australia.
Doctoral Program in Economics
The Melbourne Institute offers an internationally recognised, five-year doctoral program jointly with the Department of Economics at the University of Melbourne.
The program is designed for students with prior training in economics who wish to acquire the advanced skills needed to practise as a professional economist in the public or private sectors or as an academic.
Students undertake two years of coursework and three years of research throughout the program, and have the opportunity to complete a Doctor of Philosophy in a wide range of specialisations. Students can be jointly supervised by members of the Melbourne Institute and the Department of Economics.
Further information about the Economics Doctoral Program is available from the Faculty of Business and Economics.
The Melbourne Institute has significant experience providing a broad range of applied research services, from statistical and quantitative analyses to the evaluation of existing research.
Working closely with partners in government, industry and community organisations, the Institute explores a variety of issues in economic and social policy, in order to inform policy development and provide insights that improve programs, practice and service delivery.
The Melbourne Institute’s research partners include:
- Department of Social Services, Australian Government (HILDA Survey and Journeys Home Survey)
- Brotherhood of St Laurence
- Sacred Heart Mission
- ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course
- Department of Employment, Australian Government (Social Policy Research Services)
- National Centre for Vocational Education Research (National VET Research and Evaluation Program), and
- Department of Education and Training, Victoria (Research and Evaluation projects).
The Melbourne Institute is delighted to host leading Australian and international researchers throughout the year, as part of our extensive visitor program.
Visiting academics collaborate with Melbourne Institute staff on specific topics of investigation and present their research at seminars, workshops and conferences.
The Melbourne Institute is a member of the worldwide National Economic Research Organisations network, known as NERO.
Facilitated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, NERO members exchange research findings, identify new areas of study and attend an annual conference.