Max Warner

Published on 21 September 2022

Research Economist

What first attracted you to the IFS?

I was attracted to the IFS by the perhaps unique opportunity to work both on rigorous academic research and high-profile policy analysis. I joined IFS immediately after completing my undergraduate degree, and so the opportunity to pursue a part-time MSc at UCL was also very attractive.

Which projects are you working on at the moment?

I work in the healthcare sector at IFS, and so I am currently working on a number of projects related to healthcare in England. One academic project, which is almost complete, examines the impacts of the 2016 junior doctor strikes on patient outcomes. Another academic project, which is still a work in progress, examines the impacts of a new NHS pension scheme on the labour supply of senior doctors. We are just beginning another academic project looking at the social care workforce and the impact of outside labour market opportunities. On the policy side, I work on NHS waiting lists, understanding the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the NHS, as well as responding to some government health announcements. In another policy project, which is almost complete, I examine the local distributions of health and police funding in England.

What kind of things do you do during a typical day at work?

Each day can be quite varied, depending on the project that I am working on. As a junior researcher at IFS, most of my time is spent on data work. This could involve cleaning new datasets, combining and manipulating datasets, generating descriptive statistics and graphs, and estimating econometric models. I mainly use Stata, but also use R and other programming languages when suitable, and Excel for simple policy work. Most of the rest of my time is spent communicating my research. This could involve discussing new results and future ideas with my colleagues, writing up drafts of reports or academic papers, or giving presentations and seminars. I also spend time learning from others, including attending seminars and reading academic and policy research.

What do you particularly enjoy about the job?

I enjoy the variety of projects and types of work that I am able to do, and the responsibility and independence I am given. The IFS provides a set of opportunities that would be hard to find anywhere else. In my first two years at the IFS, I have produced work that has been covered in every major newspaper and discussed by government and opposition ministers, worked closely with world-leading academics, produced work for SAGE during the Covid-19 pandemic, presented at academic conferences and frequently presented my work to civil servants.

How has your career progressed so far?

I joined the IFS two years ago. Over that time, I have completed several projects and started a number of new projects. When you begin at IFS you work on projects conceived and managed by your colleagues, but with experience you quickly get more opportunities to contribute to and influence the research you are involved in. I am now halfway through my part-time MSc in economics at UCL. Being able to take the techniques and theories I learn in the lecture theatre and apply them to my work has been very rewarding.

What have you learned from working here?

I have learnt a huge amount from working at the IFS. This includes specific skills, like programming and econometric methods, and specific policy knowledge on the NHS in England. But I have also gained more general skills. These include learning how to be a good researcher, and how to communicate research well.

How would you describe the working environment?

The working environment is friendly and supportive. My colleagues are deeply knowledgeable about their subject areas and passionate about their work. People are always happy to help others and offer their thoughts on research projects.