The Foundation has a long history of support for economics and economic research. In 1934, when Alfred P. Sloan first conceived of starting his own foundation, the Great Depression had forced economic issues to the forefront of the national consciousness. The issues raised by the Depression: the ability of free markets to feed and clothe a modern nation, the role regulation should play in curbing market failures, the effects of taxation on government revenues and work incentives, were among the earliest concerns of the Foundation. Since then, the Foundation has retained its conviction that the rigorous scientific analysis of economic behavior is essential to the effective management of many aspects of both public and private life. To this day, the Foundation remains the single largest private funder of economic research.
In each of our economics grantmaking programs, the Foundation seeks proposals for original projects led by outstanding individuals or teams, which exhibit a high degree of methodological rigor, which have a high expected return to society, and for which funding from the private sector, government, or other foundations is not yet widely available. Our economics grantmaking is U.S.-focused. The analysis of datasets or economic behaviors outside the U.S. will not be considered unless it can be demonstrated that the data or analysis is relevant to understanding some aspect of the U.S economy, the U.S. labor market, or some aspect of the functioning of U.S. economic institutions.