IRES is a research center of the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL). The center was founded in 1928 with a mission to analyze economic data and unravel the essential mechanisms behind them. It has been located in Louvain-la-Neuve since the mid-1970s.

In its early years, the focus of the center was on the analysis of the business cycle and on the productive structure of the economy. A major shift occurred in 1990, with a marked increase in the international character of IRES, a more active support to academic research, and further developments of the policy aspects of this research.

With the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) and the Institut de Statistique, Biostatistique et Sciences Actuarielles (ISBA), IRES now belongs to the Louvain Institute of Data Analysis and Modeling in economics and statistics (LIDAM).

Within LIDAM, IRES has its own research policy, affiliated researchers and administrative staff. IRES has 11 faculty members, a few postdoctoral researchers and about 25 doctoral students.