Legatum Institute

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Legatum Institute
Legatum Institute Logo.jpg
TypeThink tank
PurposePromoting policies that lift people from poverty to prosperity
Headquarters11 Charles Street, London, W1J 5DW
Philippa Stroud
Key people
Alan McCormick Chairman, Toby Baxendale

The Legatum Institute is an independent educational charity based in London, UK, run by Baroness Philippa Stroud, a Conservative member of the House of Lords.[1][2][3] Its stated aim is to advance the education of the public in national and international political, social and economic policy.[4][5][6] The Institute has over forty donors including the Legatum Foundation.[7]


The Legatum Institute was founded in 2007 by the Legatum Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Dubai-based investment firm the Legatum Group.[8] It was given charitable status in 2015.[9] Legatum Institute is funded by over 40 donors including the Legatum Foundation.[10][11] The Institute is currently located in Mayfair.[12] Philippa Stroud (formerly Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice, and a Conservative Party Peer in the House of Lords) was appointed CEO of the Legatum Institute in 2016.[13][14] Other senior fellows include Oliver Letwin and Gisela Stuart (former Labour MP and chair of Vote Leave).[15]

Reports and advocacy[edit]

Current programmes and policies[edit]

The Institute currently has seven programmes which they summarize as: the country we want to be; effective government; cultural transformation; populism and political change; the economics of prosperity; global people movements; 21st century international development.[16]

The Legatum Institute founded the 'Courage in Journalism' award in 2017 following the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia that same year.[17] The award was created to highlight the dangers faced by journalists around the world and to support press freedom.[18][19] In 2019, Jan Kuciak, a Slovakian Journalist who died in 2018 at the age of 27, was named the winner of the annual prize.[20] The panel of judges includes award-winning journalist Christina Lamb.

In 2017, the Institute commissioned a poll by Populus, estimating the views of the general British public on the political priorities of Legatum Institute.[21] The top priorities for respondents were: food and water; emergency services; universal healthcare; a good house; a decent well-paying job; and compulsory and free education. At the bottom were owning a car and cheap air travel.[22] The British public:

  • Favour public ownership of the UK's water, electricity, gas and railway sectors
  • Believe taxes should rise to provide more funding for the NHS
  • Support higher levels of regulation
  • Favour wage caps for CEOs
  • Favour worker representation at senior executive and board level
  • Support the abolition of zero hour contracts
  • Hold an unfavourable view of 'capitalism; as a concept, viewing it as 'greedy', 'selfish' and 'corrupt'.[23]

The Legatum Institute's Matthew Elliott described these views as "populist".[21] Another commentator on this poll remarked that "capitalism has delivered for too few".[24]

Legatum Prosperity Index[edit]

The Legatum Institute publishes the annual Legatum Prosperity Index,[25] which measures prosperity across countries by applying a combination of material wealth and life satisfaction factors. The report has been in continuous publication since its launch in 2007 and has expanded its coverage from 50 countries to 142.[26][27] In the third edition of the Prosperity Index, released in 2009, the institute ranked India 45th out of 104 countries, with other emerging markets, Brazil 41st and China 75th.[28] The large gap between China and India's prosperity narrowed in 2017, as the Index applauded the latter for improving governance through new laws.[29]

Legatum's 2016 Central and Eastern European Prosperity Report discusses moving beyond wealth as a sole measure of prosperity, and demonstrates that whilst Eastern European countries average income was much lower than that of Western Europe, its overall prosperity, when looking at a full range of indicators, has become much closer to that of its neighbours.[30]

The Institute also runs the Global People Movements programme, which has been working to develop data-driven solutions to the largest movement of forcibly displaced people since the Second World War.[31]

Legatum have focused a portion of their research on strengthening families, parenting skills and supporting children and young people with mental health problems.[32][33] In July 2018, Legatum Institute released a report linking "anxiety, self-harm and other mental illness with high social media use among young people". The report argued that this is damaging families and young people's relationships with other adults.[34][35] More widely, Legatum Institute has advocated the use of parenting courses as a useful way of embedding parental skills and values to support children, but that the take up of these courses remains low due to stigma (people relating such courses incorrectly to 'troubled families' and 'poor parenting'), poor accessibility and lack of familiarity with the trainer's and facilitators.[36]

Historic programmes[edit]

At the 2015 Africa Prosperity Summit, the Legatum Institute participated as a panellist during the session on "Stoking African Innovation: Ways and Means", which focused on addressing economic and social requirements.[37] The same year, the Institute commissioned YouGov to investigate public attitudes towards capitalism, which highlighted a nearly universal belief that the biggest corporations in the world had become successful through cheating and at the expense of the environment.[38]

In 2016, the Legatum Institute, in partnership with the Center for European Policy Analysis, published research and recommendations relating to Russian disinformation techniques and their impact.[39]

Other initiatives[edit]

In October 2013, the Legatum Institute co-founded the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) in partnership with entrepreneur Luke Johnson.[40][41] Its intention is to research and communicate the positive impact of entrepreneurs on the economy and society. The CFE took ownership of Startup Britain in 2014 and has released research on the role universities should play in entrepreneurship[42] and the benefits of offering entrepreneurship schemes to pre-release prisoners.[43]

The Legatum Institute houses the Social Metrics Commission, founded in 2016 and chaired by its CEO Philippa Stroud, which published a new report into UK poverty levels in September 2018.[44][45] The report found that 14.4 million people were living in poverty in 2017, including 4.5 million children.[46] On the 17th May 2019, the Department for Work and Pensions announced that it would adopt the Social Metrics Commission's methodology for measuring poverty in the UK.[47][48] This was largely achieved due to the cross-party involvement and support of the new measure.[49][50][51]

Role in Brexit[edit]

The think tank has been widely characterised as influential in the Brexit debate.[7][52] In July 2017, soon after the UK's EU referendum result, Legatum Institute formed the Special Trade Commission, headed by Shanker Singham (who backed remain in the run-up to the EU referendum) and included former New Zealand Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization Crawford Falconer as a commissioner.[52] This group provided reports looking at the UK's future trade negotiations. The Special Trade Commission's work was seen by some commentators as pushing for a "hard Brexit",[53] a claim denied by the Institute, who said their role was to support the referendum result and took no public position in the lead-up to the EU referendum.[54]

The Institute proposed using unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the Republic of IrelandNorthern Ireland border issue post-Brexit.[55] The solution, which by the report's own admission faced issues around cost and bad weather, was criticised[56] – the Daily Telegraph describing it as being "held up to ridicule".[57] The report proposed other potential measures including re-purposing the Special EU Programmes Body and creating a special economic zone, an idea also put forward by the Republic of Ireland's main opposition party.[55] Crawford Falconer left the Special Trade Commission to become the Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser and Second Permanent Secretary for the Department for International Trade in June 2016.[58] Shanker Singham left the institute in March 2018[59][60] to take his team to the Institute of Economic Affairs and Matthew Elliott left in May 2018.[61] In May 2018, the institute announced it would end its Brexit-related research.[62]


The Legatum Institute holds regular public events. In 2012 the Dalai Lama spoke at an event called "ethics for a more prosperous world".[63] In 2015, they held an event which looked at the ownership and management of public assets.[64] In 2018 they gathered thinkers from different perspectives and let them argue under the Chatham House Rule to promote debate.[65]


The following people are current Fellows at the Legatum Institute:[66]

Previous Fellows have included Peter Pomerantsev and Matthew Elliott.


The Legatum Institute has been given a C grade for funding transparency by Who Funds You?.[67]


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  33. ^ "Adolescence". Legatum Institute. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  34. ^ Hurst, Greg (24 July 2018). "Put down phones and talk to children, parents told". The Times. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  35. ^ "Jayne Dowle: Why my family is banned from using phones at mealtimes". The Yorkshire Times. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
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  43. ^ "Turning prisoners into entrepreneurs would save 1.4bn per annum, claims CFE report". National Enterprise Network. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
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  46. ^ "New study finds 4.5 million UK children living in poverty". 16 September 2018. Retrieved 19 Sep 2018.
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  48. ^ Grierson, Jamie (18 May 2019). "Government to overhaul measures of poverty by 2020". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
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  63. ^ "His Holiness the Dalai Lama Participates in a Symposium - Ethics for a More Prosperous World". dalailama.com. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  64. ^ "Legatum Institute Event:" Sweating our assets: Yield not ownership is the answer"". Cobden Centre. 18 February 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  65. ^ Juliet Samuel (19 January 2018). "Teach authoritarian students to debate and 'no platforming' will be no more". Telegraph. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
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