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Imran Tahir

Research Economist

What first attracted you to the IFS?

What attracted me to the IFS was the opportunity to use economics to answer important public policy questions. I remember first reading an IFS report on tax design during university and appreciating the way in which the theories we learnt in class were used to dissect real life policies. I also soon discovered that the IFS did research on a range of other topics that interested me, such as inequality and human capital accumulation.


Which projects are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a couple of projects investigating educational inequalities. The first project considers the extent to which family background influences young people’s post-16 education choices. In the second, as part of the Deaton Review (the IFS’ large-scale review of inequalities), I’m looking more broadly at how educational inequalities develop throughout individuals’ time in education. In both of these projects, I’ve benefited greatly from working closely with more experienced colleagues. As well as this ongoing work, I’m about to start a project where I’ll be analysing an exciting new dataset that links school and health records. This will allow us to study the relationship between children’s health and educational attainment.


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

Most days at work involve a mixture of different tasks. The exact balance depends on the projects I’m working on, but a staple of any project is data analysis. Especially at the beginning of a project, I spend a significant share of time using statistical software to perform empirical analysis. I also regularly meet with members of my project teams to discuss ideas and initial results. As well as conducting my own analysis, I spend time reading to ensure that I’m across the related literature and I understand the policy context of our research questions. Towards the end of a project, I’ll work on writing up a presentation or an article to communicate our findings.


What do you particularly enjoy about the job?

My favourite aspect of the job is the problem solving involved in research. I enjoy figuring out how to best use data and theory to answer research questions, and it’s always satisfying when an idea works out. Once we have answers, I also enjoy the challenge of communicating our findings in an engaging and straight-forward manner.


How has your career progressed so far?

During my first year at the IFS, I’ve worked on a range of different projects and have had the opportunity to present my work at seminars. I’ve begun developing my own research interests and will soon start studying towards a PhD at UCL.


What have you learned from working here?

I’ve learnt a lot from working at the IFS. I’ve gained a better understanding of the research process and have immensely improved a number of important practical skills, such as coding and report-writing. As well as improving my research skills, I’m continually building my knowledge on the policy areas I work on. All in all, working at the IFS is enabling me to develop a range of skills that are required to be a successful economist.


How would you describe the working environment?

The working environment is relaxed and supportive – everyone’s trusted to get on with their work without much oversight, but colleagues make time to support you when necessary. People genuinely care about your development, and even as a young researcher you’re actively encouraged to think independently and share your ideas. In general, everyone is passionate about their research and always happy to discuss their work, which makes it an excellent environment to work and grow as an economist.