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Why economic security is a major priority

Economic insecurity is one of the major challenges of our time – and an issue that is felt right across the social gradient, not only by those in precarious employment. 

The RSA defines economic security as:

“The degree of confidence that a person can have in maintaining a decent quality of life, now and in the future, given their economic and financial circumstances”

Polling by the RSA and Populus  has revealed that while 13 percent of adults describe themselves as being in poverty, 19 percent identify as being economically insecure and almost four-fifths of people think workers face more uncertainty and anxiety about their jobs than they did a generation ago. 

There is also a strong sentiment that the fabric holding together the social contract between citizens, their communities, the state and the market has become seriously strained as insecurity has risen. Growing evidence shows the adverse effects that unchecked economic insecurity can have – from fuelling social pessimism, extreme populism and public health crises to limiting people’s social and economic participation.

What we're doing

Economic security can illuminate major empirical and policy puzzles, and enrich our understanding of the economy, human motivation and behaviour and contemporary social challenges. Our work – from the Future Work Centre and our place-based partnership with Nottingham Civic Exchange, through to our research on Universal Basic Income – has started to explore the potential solutions to this issue.

We are hoping to collaborate with a range of organisations to develop economic security as a major discipline for research, policy and practice. We want to do this by:

  • Building the theoretical and empirical foundations of economic security, by developing robust, widely agreed and reliable measure(s), and ensuring this has a high degree of policy and practice applicability.
  • Mobilising places to surface new insights, including through generating rich qualitative and place-based data and deploying the RSA’s design-based methodologies to bring together stakeholders to develop and prototype practical solutions.
  • Forming long-term partnerships to pilot solutions, working intensively in particular places or policy domains to co-design and test reforms, innovations, strategies and programmes.

Collaborate with us

If you are interested and would like to collaborate with us, please contact

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Atif Shafique

Atif Shafique

Senior Researcher