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CEP Timeline

Blue and green light digital wallpaper. Photo by Benyamin Bohlouli on Unsplash

The Centre for Economic Performance is one of Europe's leading economic research centres. The centre's policy-focused research covers a range of topics including sustainable economic growth, labour markets, trade, education, urban economics and wellbeing. The centre's first director was Richard Layard. John Van Reenen became director in 2003 and Stephen Machin has been director since 2016.

Read a brief introduction to our history below and get the full timeline here.


The Centre for Economic Performance is established at the LSE in 1990, with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council. Richard Layard is appointed as its founding director.

CEP's first discussion paper "Mismatch: a framework for thought" by Richard Jackman, Richard Layard and Savvas Savouri is published in the first year.

Tony Venables, of CEP, and Paul Krugman, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), publish "Globalisation and the Inequality of Nations" (1995), developing insights from new economic geography, bringing together the fields of international trade and economic geography.

In 1995 pioneering work begins on the economics of education using big data to study what works in schools and colleges, which led to the establishment of the Centre for the Economics of Education (CEE) in 2000, led by Stephen Machin.

CEP research paves the way for a UK National Minimum Wage (1997). David Metcalf is a founding member of the Low Pay Commission.

The book Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market by Richard Layard, Stephen Nickell and Richard Jackman is published in 1999. It makes a central contribution to understanding what causes unemployment and recommends "active labour market policies".


In 2002 CEP is awarded the Queen's Prize Anniversary Award for "its application of economic theory and rigorous empirical analysis to issues of unemployment, productivity, the economics of education and international trade".

In the same year, The World Management Survey (WMS) is developed by Nicholas Bloom, Renata Lemos, Raffaella Sadun, Daniela Scur and John Van Reenen. It is the world's first cross-country, cross-industry dataset built to measure the quality of management practices.

A year later, Monopsony in Motion: Imperfect Competition in Labour Markets by Alan Manning is published. It analyses labour markets from a real-world perspective, where employers hold significant market power, making it costly for workers to change jobs.

The landmark book Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (2005), by Richard Layard, addresses the paradox that while people want more income, societies do not become happier as they get richer.

In 2006 CEP's Mental Health Policy Group publishes "The Depression Report", spurring the creation of the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme in 2008.

Building on the "new economic geography" work of Venables and Krugman, the Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC) led by Henry Overman and funded by UK government departments is launched in 2008. SERC asks why do some regions, cities and communities prosper, while others don't?


In 2010 Christopher Pissarides is awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, jointly with Peter Diamond, of MIT, and Dale Mortensen, of Northwestern University, for their work on the role of job search and matching in the economics of unemployment.

CEP's 1000th discussion paper "Trade induced technical change? The impact of Chinese imports on innovation, IT and productivity" (2011) by Nicholas Bloom, Mirko Draca and John Van Reenen is published.

The first "World Happiness Report", edited by John Helliwell, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, is published in 2012. It quickly becomes known for its world happiness ranking.

The LSE Growth Commission, set up in 2012 to suggest reforms needed for economic recovery after the Global Financial Crisis, publishes its first report "Investing for Prosperity: Skills, Infrastructure and Innovation" in 2013. It recommended a National Infrastructure Commission, and a new Infrastructure Bank, both now a reality.

The Centre for Vocational Education Research, led by Sandra McNally and funded by UK government departments, is established in 2015 to investigate how high-quality vocational and technical education provision can be improved in the UK.

In 2016 CEP launches its Brexit analyses series. CEP research on Brexit was used to inform policy decisions during and after the UK's exit from the EU in 2020. The LSE Growth Commission sets out a new blueprint for post-Brexit growth in its second report "UK Growth: A New Chapter" in 2017.

In 2018 CEP is given Institute status by the ESRC in recognition of its role as a global centre of excellence.


In 2020 CEP launches the Covid-19 analyses, a series of briefings on the pandemic's effects on the economy, including the housing market, crime rates and learning loss.

In the same year, the Programme on Innovation and Diffusion (POID) is established. Led by John Van Reenen, it is focused on cutting-edge research into how to improve productivity through nurturing innovation and then diffusing these ideas across the economy.

The Economy 2030 Inquiry is launched in 2021, a collaborative effort between CEP and the Resolution Foundation think tank, funded by the Nuffield Inquiry. It aims to explore the economic changes the UK faces and develop plans for building a strong and stable economy.