Since the publication of the Meade Report in 1978 and the establishment of the Fiscal Studies journal in 1979, IFS has been a world leader in the microeconomic analysis of tax policy. Here we document the growing importance of rigorous empirical analysis in our academic and policy research. We point to the expanding reach of IFS research outside the pure analysis of tax policy in the years following the Meade Report and the key role played by the ESRC Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy, established in 1991. This Centre provided the environment for long-term research across a wide set of fields that has enabled IFS to stay ahead in the policy debate and maintain a leading position in academic research. The breadth and depth of work in tax policy as it impacted on individuals, on families, on the labour market, on firms, on innovation, on retirement, on capital markets and on government revenues are exemplified through the Mirrlees Review.

The expansion of IFS research into a broader set of areas, including health, child development and human capital, is captured through the recent launch of the Deaton Review on the causes and consequences of inequality, covering a broad set of inequalities and the challenges they bring to society, to policy and to research.

This paper was first published in the 50th anniversary special issue of Fiscal Studies.