Think tanks or policy institutes are organizations performing policy-related research, analysis and advocacy on a range of domestic and international issues. Key in aiding informed decision-making among policy makers, most think tanks are non-profit organizations and are provided tax exempt status in the U.S. and Canada. Every year, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania compile and publish a report listing and ranking the nearly 6,500 think tanks around the globe.
90.5 percent of all think tanks were created after 1951 and today, close to 55 percent of them are in North America and Europe. Broken down by country, the U.S. has the largest number of think tanks by far with 1,872, ahead of China’s 512 and the UK’s 444. India comes fourth with 293 while Germany rounds off the top-five with 225. In the U.S., D.C. has the greatest number at 397, followed by Massachusetts (177) and California (169).
As well as having the most of any country, the U.S. also has some of the world’s top think tanks. The research ranked organizations by influence and out of the top-10, five are U.S.-based. The Brookings Institute was ranked the most influential, followed by the French Institute of International Relations. The U.S. think tanks in the top-10 include the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (3), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (5), The Heritage Foundation (8) and the RAND Corporation (9).