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New think tank ranking: less than 4% of the UK public can name a think tank

June 25, 2019 #Insights
New think tank ranking: less than 4% of the UK public can name a think tank
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New research shows less than 4% (3.74%) of the UK public can name a think tank. The same research revealed that just 60% of the public say they know what a think tank is, but cannot name one. The Adam Smith Institute (1.44%) is the only think tank that more than 1% of the population can name, followed by the Fabian Society (0.85%), and the Bow Group (0.50%).

This new research, from Cast From Clay shows that the UK public don’t know who or where ideas for the future of the nation come from at a time of massive political upheaval. It also shows the opportunity for think tanks that can engage the public with inspiring ideas about the directions the country could take.

The data is included below. This research follows on from earlier research on public perceptions of political communicators, published in April – Democracy 2.0: a new role for the policy expert? – and thought pieces on Why the public should matter to think tankers.


We interviewed n=2,007 UK adults aged 18+ by online omnibus survey. The sample was nationally representative by age, gender and region. The survey was conducted in partnership with research agency Delineate. All of the numbers included are within the margin of error of the study (+/- 2.2%). This indicates that so few people know what think tanks are that these numbers are not statistically significant.

We filtered out answers where it wasn’t clear which think tank was being referred to, or where the organisation cited was not a think tank (e.g. universities, businesses). Where the respondent got the name of the think tank wrong, but we were confident we knew which they were talking about, we accepted it as a valid response.

Please name as many think tanks as you can that operate in the UK.

Name any think tank 3.74%

Adam Smith Institute 1.44%

Fabian Society 0.85%

The Bow Group 0.50%

Centre for European Reform 0.45%

Demos 0.45%

Institiute for Public Policy Research 0.45%

Chatham House 0.35%

Policy Exchange 0.35%

Theos 0.35%

Institute for Fiscal Studies 0.30%

Centre for Social Justice 0.25%

Institute for Economic Affairs 0.25%

Joseph Rowntree Foundation 0.25%

Reform 0.25%

Centre for Economic and Policy Research 0.20%

Centre for Policy Studies 0.20%

International Institute for Strategic Studies 0.20%

New Economics Foundation 0.20%

Education Policy Institute 0.15%

King’s Fund 0.15%

Bright Blue 0.10%

Foreign Policy Centre 0.10%

Nuffield Trust 0.10%

European Foundation 0.05%

Henry Jackson Society 0.05%

Resolution Foundation 0.05%

Royal Society of Arts 0.05%

Institute for Government 0.05%

Cobden Centre 0.05%

Civitas 0.05%

The Education Foundation 0.05%

The Bruges Group 0.05%

Mutuo 0.05%

SMF 0.05%June 25, 2019

Image credit: cottonbro studio on Pexels

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