Who we are

Named the “The Most Interesting Think Tank in American Politics” by TIME Magazine in 2023, the Niskanen Center promotes policies that advance prosperity, opportunity, and human flourishing, guided by the belief that a free market and an effective government are mutually dependent.

We are forging a new vision of American governance that draws on ideas from across the ideological spectrum, an approach made possible by our independence from rigid political coalitions. Our ideological openness gives us credibility to work with a broad range of actors, meeting them on their own terms and helping them converge on policies they might support for different reasons. We thus aspire to be a voice for the hopes and ambitions of Americans who feel shut out by the hostility of our politics.

What we advocate

We advocate for a government that provides social insurance and essential public goods, fosters market competition and innovation, invests in state capacity, and does not impede productive enterprise. We are committed to the principles of liberal democracy and an open society that encourages engagement, cooperation, discussion, and learning.

Fundamental principles of American democracy are coming under stress amid our intense polarization. At Niskanen, we commit not only to defending those principles but also to redeeming them by demonstrating that our system can deliver for its people.

What we do

Niskanen provides a constructive and optimistic response to the most daunting challenges Americans face in the 21st century, including slow economic growth and economic insecurity; bureaucratic sclerosis; mass incarceration and high crime rates; climate change and energy bottlenecks; unaffordable housing and healthcare; and a dysfunctional immigration system.

Many think tanks focus on policy, but few combine this work with a broader theory that articulates a fresh vision of the larger political economy. Fewer still add the real-world step of advocating for the policies they develop. As a relatively new, small, and nimble organization, we have carved out an approach that combines all three elements, and lets each inform and take inspiration from the others.

Our outreach is primarily to leaders in government, advocacy, and media, as they are the dominant drivers of policy outcomes.

Learn more and get involved

To learn more about what we do and our most recent accomplishments, please see our 2023 annual report. To dive deeper into our distinctive vision, policy ideas, and approach to advocacy, explore the writings below or check out our “Key Initiatives” and policy areas.

You can support our work with a donation. Information about internships and job openings is available on our careers page. And please subscribe to our biweekly newsletter and our Substacks.