e61 Institute

e61 Institute (e61) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan economic research institute that analyses big data to help answer Australia’s most pressing policy questions. Bringing together problem-solvers from academia, industry and government, e61 uses its analysis to help pave the way for stronger evidence-based policies. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provided the seed funding that helped to establish e61 Institute and is currently its major source of funding.

What we’re working to achieve

Good policymaking is informed by the availability of accurate data and sound evidence, which isn’t always available to policymakers when making big decisions.

The e61 Institute seeks to:

  • Create the highest-quality policy evidence
  • Drive impact through public engagement
  • Push the frontier of economic knowledge & analysis
  • Build the next generation of policy leaders

How we are doing it

In 2020, the Susan McKinnon Foundation provided the seed funding that helped to establish e61, contributing a $13m grant over three years.

e61 was founded by Andrew Charlton*, a University of Oxford doctorate and, co-founder of Alphabeta and at the time, Managing Director of Accenture Australia and Greg Kaplan, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago.

The organisation couples unique data from corporate and government sources with economic models to disentangle key issues including boosting productivity, increasing investment and improving the quality of management and business performance in Australia.

To undertake its analysis, e61 has secured access to a unique combination of public and private data service including those of the ABS and transaction level data on household spending.

They operate with the following principles:

  • Quality and rigour of outputs
  • Research that has an impact on policy
  • Politically neutral – no left or right bias
  • A focus on the biggest economic issues
  • Courage, no ‘no-go zones’

e61 is currently focusing on two flagship research projects that centre on two key questions:

  • Productivity: Where should structural policy reforms be prioritised to raise productivity growth in Australia? This project analyses the productivity slowdown and Australia’s lost dynamism, by combining key insights from aggregate and micro-data.
  • Income Support: How should Australia’s income support system be designed to promote broad-based prosperity? This project investigates whether an increase in unemployment benefits discourages the unemployed from searching for a job and/or whether it buys more time to find a better matched job.

The work of e61 strongly complements the Susan McKinnon Foundation’s focus on improving the quality of evidence and ideas that feed into policymaking. As SMF begins to expand into producing research in other areas such as social policy and education, e61’s rigorous, data-led work will provide a robust foundation for developing policy solutions and recommendations.

*Andrew Charlton has subsequently been elected as the MP for Paramatta and resigned from his position with e61 Institute prior to the election.