American Institute for Economic Research

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American Institute for
Economic Research
Formation1933; 90 years ago (1933)
FounderEdward C. Harwood
Type501(c)(3) non-profit think tank
Purpose"Conducts independent, scientific, economic research to educate individuals, thereby advancing their personal interests and those of the nation."[1]
William P. Ruger[2]
Revenue (2019)
Expenses (2019)$5,129,945[3]

The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is a conservative and libertarian free-market think tank located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.[4][5] It was founded in 1933 by Edward C. Harwood, an economist and investment advisor. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.[6] During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was known for spreading misinformation and for promoting a herd immunity strategy of "focused protection" to deal with the pandemic.[7][8]


Col. Edward C. Harwood was a graduate of the United States Military Academy and served in the Army Corps of Engineers. In the 1920s, he began writing freelance magazine articles on economic issues.[9] With $200 saved from selling his articles, Harwood founded AIER in 1933.[9][6]

Policy positions[edit]

AIER statements and publications downplay the scientific consensus on climate change and portray the risks as minor and manageable,[10] with titles such as "What Greta Thunberg Forgets About Climate Change", "The Real Reason Nobody Takes Environmental Activists Seriously" and "Brazilians Should Keep Slashing Their Rainforest".[11][12][13]

The institution has also funded research on the comparative benefits that sweatshops supplying multinationals bring to the people working in them.[14][15]

According to historian and philosopher Philip Mirowski, AIER has been "leading the charge" to neutralize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "arbiters of public health."[16]


AIER issued a statement in October 2020 called the Great Barrington Declaration that argued for a herd immunity strategy of "focused protection" to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.[8] It was roundly condemned by many public health experts.[8][17] Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert appointed by the White House, called the declaration "total nonsense" and unscientific.[8] Tyler Cowen, a libertarian economist at George Mason University, wrote that while he sympathized with a libertarian approach to deal with the pandemic, he considered the declaration to be dangerous and misguided.[18] The declaration was also criticized by the Niskanen Center,[19] a formerly libertarian think tank[20] that now calls itself moderate.[21]

AIER paid for ads on Facebook promoting its articles against government social distancing measures and mask mandates.[22]

In October 2020, Twitter removed a tweet by White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas linking to an AIER article that argued against the effectiveness of masks.[23]


AIER maintains a global network of local chapters called the Bastiat Society.[22] It partners with the Atlas Network and other groups.[24][25]


AIER owns American Investment Services Inc., an investment advisory firm whose fund was valued at around $285 million in 2020.[26][10] The fund includes holdings in a wide range of companies, but holds a majority of its assets in diversified exchange-traded funds and gold investments. In 2020, about 14% of its investments were in information technology and telecom companies including Microsoft and Alphabet Inc., about 6% in electric and gas utilities, 5% in fossil fuel companies including Chevron and ExxonMobil, and 2% in food, alcohol, and tobacco stocks, including Mondelez International and Philip Morris International.[10][27]

Over half of AIER's funding comes from its investments, but it also receives contributions and foundation grants. In 2018 it reportedly received US$68,100 from the Charles Koch Foundation, approximately 3% of AIER's revenue for the year.[22][10][8][1] It has partnered with Emergent Order, a public relations company also funded by the Charles Koch Foundation.[10]

In 2019 the American Institute for Economic Research had total assets of $184,901,564.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "American Institute for Economic Research" (PDF). ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  2. ^ "AIER Welcomes Will Ruger | AIER".
  3. ^ a b c d "2019 Annual Report" (PDF). American Institute for Economic Research. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  4. ^ Bellow, Heather (2020-10-22). "Draft town letter slams 'risky premise' of Great Barrington Declaration". The Berkshire Eagle.
  5. ^ Cowgill, Terry (2020-10-06). "News Analysis: Disputed 'Great Barrington Declaration' issued by free-market think tank". The Berkshire Edge. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  6. ^ a b "Charity Navigator - Rating for American Institute for Economic Research". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  7. ^ McKie, Ruth E. (2022). "Obstruction, delay, and transnationalism: Examining the online climate change counter-movement" (PDF). Energy Research & Social Science. 84. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2021.102387. Nevertheless, this subgroup maintains a presence in the network and promotes anti-science rhetoric, including nuclear conspiracies. Moreover, the technique of employing discredited scientific positions mirror anti-science and conspiratorial debates on the COVID19 pandemic. This includes the anti-lockdown and misinformation campaigns by the Kock funded libertarian American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). The Koch funded institute created the Great Barrington Declaration, similar to the OSIM's Petition Project, and includes climate sceptic authors Dr Jay Bhattacharya and Sunetra Gupta promoted by the counter-movement organisation the Heartland Institute. Overlaps between AIER and other think tanks in a network funded by Koch Industries show the ongoing relationship between fossil interests and the dissemination of scientific misinformation to protect a business as usual scenario even during the time of an international public health crisis on this international web platform.
  8. ^ a b c d e Mandavilli, Apoorva; Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (2020-10-23). "A Viral Theory Cited by Health Officials Draws Fire From Scientists". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  9. ^ a b Harwood, Frederick C.; Murray (2008). The Golden Constant: American Institute for Economic Research: 75 Years of Free Thinking on the Free Market (1933-2008). American Institute for Economic Research: Charles. ISBN 9780913610626.
  10. ^ a b c d e Nafeez Ahmed (2020-10-09). "Climate Science Denial Network Behind Great Barrington Declaration". Retrieved 2020-10-11.
  11. ^ Krugman, Paul (2020-10-26). "Trump Tells Coronavirus, 'I Surrender'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-08. Well, it is, not surprisingly, linked to the Charles Koch Institute. And a perusal of its website reveals that until recently it devoted much of its time to climate denial, putting out articles with titles like "Brazilians Should Keep Slashing Their Rainforest." More recently, however, the institute's focus has shifted to Covid denial. Last month, for example, it published an article lauding Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, whose refusal to take action against the coronavirus has turned her state into what the article called "a fortress of liberty and hope protected from the grasps of overbearing politicians."
  12. ^ Cowgill, Terry (13 October 2020). "'Great Barrington Declaration' and AIER feeling heat on both sides of the Atlantic". The Berkshire Edge. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  13. ^ Sodha, Sonia (2020-10-11). "The anti-lockdown scientists' cause would be more persuasive if it weren't so half-baked". Retrieved 2021-02-08. what are scientists doing fronting a campaign whose back office is run by a thinktank that flirts with climate change denial?
  14. ^ Greenhalgh, Trish; McKee, Martin; Kelly-Irving, Michelle (18 October 2020). "The pursuit of herd immunity is a folly – so who's funding this bad science?". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  15. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Skarbek, David (2006-06-01). "Sweatshops and third world living standards: Are the jobs worth the sweat?". Journal of Labor Research. 27 (2): 263–274. doi:10.1007/s12122-006-1006-z. ISSN 1936-4768. S2CID 55642948.
  16. ^ Mirowski, Philip (April 27, 2022). "The Death of Neoliberalism Has Been Greatly Exaggerated". Jacobin. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  17. ^ "Critics Blast Controversial Declaration in Favor of Herd Immunity". Medscape. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  18. ^ "A Dangerous Libertarian Strategy for Herd Immunity". 2020-10-15. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  19. ^ "The Useful Libertarian Idiocy of The Great Barrington Declaration". Niskanen Center. 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  20. ^ Coren, Michael J. (31 October 2018). "A libertarian think tank just gave up on libertarianism". Quartz. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  21. ^ "The Center Can Hold: Public Policy for an Age of Extremes". Niskanen Center. 2018-12-18. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  22. ^ a b c "American Institute for Economic Research". DeSmog. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  23. ^ Rahman, Khaleda (October 18, 2020). "Twitter Removes White House Adviser's Tweet Saying Masks Do Not Prevent COVID-19". Newsweek. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  24. ^ "The pursuit of herd immunity is a folly – so who's funding this bad science?". 2020-10-18. Retrieved 2021-02-08.
  25. ^ Nafeez Ahmed (2020-10-03). "Koch-Funded PR Agency Aided Great Barrington Declaration Sponsor". Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  26. ^ "American Investment Services: AIS - Disciplined, Diversified, Cost Effective". American Investment Services, Inc. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
  27. ^ American Investment Services (2020-10-29). "13F-HR".

External links[edit]