January 16, 2009
Washington—A new survey that represents "the first comprehensive ranking of the world's top think tanks" concludes that the Peterson Institute for International Economics is tied (with the Brookings Institution) as the "Top Think Tank in the World" (table 26)1. The survey identifies and assesses 407 institutions out of a worldwide total of 5,465 (including 1777 in the United States) as "the global go-to think tanks." It was prepared by The Think Tank and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania and released in January 2009.
The survey also ranks the Institute as having the second (to Brookings) most "Outstanding Policy Oriented-Public Policy Research Program" in the world (table 22). It ranked tops in the United States and second in the world, to the International Crisis Group, in "Best Use of the Media to Communicate Programs and Research" (table 24). It ranked second globally, again to Brookings, as top "International Economic Policy Think Tank" (table 18) and was cited as the tenth leading "Domestic Economic Policy Think Tank" (table 17) though it does not specialize in that set of issues.
The survey covers think tanks that address the entire range of issue-areas rather than just economics (let alone international economics, in which the Peterson Institute specializes), including multipurpose institutions (like the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings and the Heritage Foundation) that both address a comprehensive range of topics and are several times larger than the Institute. This may explain the apparent inconsistency that the Institute ranked only 12th in the United States (table 5) despite tying for "Top Think Tank in the World." This latter ranking was picked up by Foreign Policy magazine in a table (The Think Tank Index) that shows that every institution ranked ahead of the Institute had a budget at least twice as large. Its co-holder of the "Top Think Tank in the World" title, Brookings, had a budget in the reference year that was more than six times as large (and is now more than eight times as large).
1. James G. McGann, "The Global 'Go-To Think Tanks,' " January 2009.