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Adam Smith Institute

Adam Smith Institute

History and Mission

The Adam Smith Institute was founded in the 1970s, as post-war socialism reached its high-watermark. Then, as now, its purpose was to educate the public about free markets and economic policy, and to inject sound ideas into the public debate. It has always been a practical think-tank rather than an academic organization, and despite its strict political independence, it has endeavored to work with policymakers to deliver real change, and to make free market ideas reality. In its early days, the Institute was known for its pioneering work on privatization, deregulation, and tax reform, and for its advocacy of internal markets in healthcare and education.


As well as engaging in traditional think tank activities – like conducting research, publishing reports, and holding seminars and conferences – the Institute has also, throughout its history, paid a great deal of attention to developing the next generation of policymakers and opinion formers, with its well known and highly regarded youth programmes forming a major part of its activities. The Adam Smith Institute also prides itself on being forward-looking and media-savvy, and being quick to embrace new technology and new opportunities to promote its ideas.

Fighting big government

Today the Adam Smith Institute faces new challenges. The industrial landscape has changed beyond recognition since the 1970s. Communism has fallen. And most politicians at least pay lip service to the free market ideas of choice, competition and enterprise. And yet in many ways government is bigger and more intrusive than ever, whether it is regulating businesses, interfering with lifestyle choices, or undermining historic civil liberties. Meanwhile public spending has grown out of control, and Britain faces a fiscal crisis unprecedented in peacetime. In short, there are many battles still to be won.

Our agenda

The Adam Smith Institute has a number of overarching objectives: to make liberty a consideration in every political argument; to win once-and-for-all the intellectual arguments against Keynesian economic policy; and to make people realize that our current fiscal path is completely unsustainable, as demographic change begins to take its toll on the welfare state. And it has a number of policy areas on which it is actively campaigning for far-reaching free market solutions – like flat taxes, free banking, and radically liberalized education.

A call to action

Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and lost it, have never known it again.” Those words encapsulate the role of the Adam Smith Institute: it exists to fight for freedom, to defend it where necessary, and to extend it where possible. It is a task the Institute takes very seriously.

Get involved

There several ways you can get involved with the work of the Adam Smith Institute. You can start attending our events. You can join our under-30s group, The Next Generation. And perhaps most importantly, you can make a donation in support of our cause. Remember, the Adam Smith Institute’s existence and effectiveness depends solely on voluntary contributions from those who share its ideals. So please consider showing your commitment to a free society by supporting the Adam Smith Institute today.

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Adam Smith Institute