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Social and Economic Research

Historic England is committed to carrying out social and economic research which can help us to understand the value of heritage to individuals, communities and the economy. The resources here help develop the evidence base for the sector.

There are four key areas of research which look at the economic and social impacts of the historic environment:

  • Economic value of heritage - a key priority in the context of on-going pressure on public and private funding. We interrogate the impact of tourism, regeneration, investment and wider economic value of the historic environment.
  • How heritage supports communities - we look at sense of place, and how heritage can increase pride in local communities. Volunteering in heritage can strengthen social bonds and improve the quality of an area.
  • Heritage and the individual - there is growing interest in the value of heritage to the individual. There is new research on heritage and wellbeing, alongside the benefits of visiting and volunteering in heritage. Heritage also has a role in education and life-long learning.
  • Understanding the sector - evaluating the condition of the sector is essential, for example looking at workforce, skills and visitor numbers. It is also important to enhance the methodologies and techniques available.

Historic England works with partners such as the Historic Environment Forum (HEF) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).  This collaboration helps produce relevant and reliable evidence in order to make the case for the historic environment.

Party in the new pocket park at Sutton House in London.
Opening of the new 'pocket park' at the National Trust's Sutton House © Sam Roberts

Key resources produced by Social and Economic Research include:

Please be aware that the majority of research was commissioned by English Heritage before the organisation split and the statutory function became Historic England. Therefore the name English Heritage is likely to be used in research reports and publications. Social and Economic Research is part of Historic England and research will continue to be commissioned by the new organisation.

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Adala Leeson

Head of Social and Economic Research

Engagement Group