Making decisions with integrity and impact relies on having access to the right research and information.  

BDO’s economic team members are multidisciplinary problem solvers, who listen carefully to understand your needs and goals, then undertake economic and social research to provide accurate information and practical advice. 

We help decision makers from all levels of government, private companies, industry associations, research and development corporations, regional development boards and not-for-profit organisations.

Assembling the right team is crucial to the success of any project, so we routinely collaborate with a range of organisations and research institutions including engineering firms, community engagement specialists, regional and urban planners and universities. 

Built on a foundation of decades of research and experience, our economic research team can help with a broad range of projects - supporting our clients' visions from thought bubble, through to lasting impact.

How BDO can help

Economic and social research services

Whatever your industry or requirements, we provide a wide range of economic and social research services across Australia, including: 

  • Project and program evaluation
  • Economic modelling
  • Economic impact analysis
  • Industry and market analysis 
  • Socioeconomic profiling
  • Social research.

Project and program evaluation

We work with our clients to understand and meet their evaluation needs. We evaluate projects, programs, and research and development investments, whether planned, in-progress or complete. Depending on data availability and the project objectives, we use Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA), Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA), stakeholder engagement and other methods such as specific evaluation frameworks required by the relevant regulator.

Economic modelling

Our economic and social researchers have been involved in the development and application of national, state and regional economic impact models for over 15 years. This includes bespoke models that focus on particular sector groups, or that represent unusual regions such as small areas or multi-state regions. Our economic modelling expertise includes:

  • Input-Output (IO)
  • Computable General Equilibrium (CGE)
  • Multi-Region Input-Output (MRIO)
  • Demographic-Economic (DECON)
  • Environmentally Extended Input-Output (EEIO)
  • Satellite accounting
  • Spatial microsimulation.

Economic impact analysis

We are leaders in economic impact analysis, helping our clients to understand the economic contribution of ongoing industries and activities, or the economic impact of changes to them. This quantifies impact on the broader economy. We apply a range of methods to do so including:

  • Input-Output analysis (or multiplier analysis)
  • Supply-chain analysis
  • Computable General Equilibrium analysis
  • Microsimulation
  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions analysis.

Industry and market analysis

We work with our clients to help them understand industries and markets of interest to them. Depending on client needs, this can mean understanding industry structure or growth, market development or market decline. To do this we use a range of methods including:

  • Data collection and stakeholder engagement
  • Financial modelling
  • Benchmarking
  • Market demand analysis
  • Assessment of current position and future threats and opportunities.

Socioeconomic profiling

We help our clients to understand the social and economic structures of regions. We do this by combining existing regional data with our modelled datasets to produce bespoke metrics that describe the regions of interest in the terms that our clients need and understand.

Social research

Our social research services are built on a foundation of mixed qualitative and quantitative methods. We combine these into optimised research designs informed by solid evidence - asking the right questions of the right people. Our collaborative approach, combining economic and social expertise, enables us to produce integrated socio-economic solutions to meet the needs of our clients. The main social research services we offer are:

  • Social indicator development
  • Social impact assessment
  • Data collection and stakeholder engagement
  • Social cost benefit analysis.

Economic and social research specialisations

Our Economics specialists provide economic and social research services across all sectors, with support from BDO’s national and global resources. We specialise in the following:

We have undertaken a broad range of projects across all mainstream agricultural industries in Australia. These studies have involved irrigated and dryland agricultural industries, cropping and livestock industries and intensive horticulture and extensive broadacre agricultural industries.

Our focus areas include:

  • Preparation of standard economic indicators (farm and industry levels)
  • Regional economic impact of agricultural industries
  • Decision support models for agricultural investment
  • Cost-benefit analysis of investment in agricultural industry R&D.

Learn more about how we work with Agribusiness clients from these projects:

Economic Analysis of Red Meat and Wool Growth Program

Client: Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)

Summary: The SA Government and partners invested approximately $9.7 million into the Red Meat and Wool Growth Program over three years (2019-20 to 2021-22). The program aimed to contribute to improving productivity, profitability and enhanced market access and to provide support to industry for recovery and restocking. It was delivered across three pillars: Improve Productivity and Profitability (Pillar 1), Install Infrastructure (Pillar 2) and Market Access (Pillar 3). PIRSA needed an independent interim economic evaluation to inform a business case to extend funding and to inform an end-of-Program evaluation.

BDO’s economics team delivered an economic impact analysis and cost benefit analysis of Pillars 1 and 2 and developed an economic evaluation plan for Pillar 3. We did this by forming a deep understanding of the availability and quality of the program’s existing data assets. We then worked collaboratively with program personnel to gather the appropriate data, form appropriate assumptions to fill data gaps, and undertake the analysis.

Evaluation of the South Australian River Murray Sustainability Irrigation Industry Improvement Program (SARMS 3IP).

Client: Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)

Summary: BDO’s economics team was contracted by PIRSA to prepare a regional economic impact analysis of the South Australian River Murray Sustainability (SARMS) Irrigation Industry Improvement Program (SARMS 3IP). This followed a test of the original Business Case economic modelling methodology undertaken by BDO -- and an interim regional economic analysis of SARMS 3IP.

The analyses undertaken for this study incorporated data sourced from the application, deed and monitoring data collected via reporting tools. The analyses supplement and update the initial cost benefit analysis (CBA) and regional impact analysis that were originally run on the intended activities of ten hypothetical scenarios. Two economic methods were utilised to provide the necessary outputs required for the economic assessment. Firstly, CBA was used to determine the efficient allocation of resources. Secondly, extended input-output analysis was employed for estimation of economic impacts.

Our team has a comprehensive understanding of economic issues fisheries management, providing economic research and consulting services to both the public and private sector.

Our fisheries and aquaculture projects can be summarised as:

  • Preparation of standard economic indicators
  • Regional economic analysis of fishing and aquaculture industries and recreational fishing
  • Decision support for aquaculture investment
  • Decision support for changes to fisheries management
  • Cost benefit analysis of investment in fishing and aquaculture industry R&D.

We began annual reporting of economic indicators for each of South Australia’s commercial fisheries in 1998 and have more recently implemented comparable monitoring programs in Queensland and New South Wales. We are trusted by industry and regulators as independent experts who deliver reliable and consistent indicators to inform their decision making.

Find out more about our current fishing and aquaculture projects:

Case study:


We regularly undertake economic analyses of regional forestry industries, working with relevant private sector stakeholders and regional and state agencies. The type of work we have completed includes:

  • Socio-economic profiling of regional forest industries
  • Economic impact assessment of forestry investments and regulatory changes
  • Analysis of forest dependent workforce and communities.

Learn more about how we work with forestry industry clients from these projects:

Economic contribution of the Central West New South Wales Forestry Hub

Client: Central West NSW Forestry Hub

Summary:  The Central West Forestry Hub was established in May 2020 and is made up of members from the forestry industry in the Central West of NSW, with a concentration around wood processing facilities in the towns of Oberon, Raglan and Burraga. The industry required updated social and economic contribution data about the regional forest industry to support engagement with stakeholders.

BDO’s economics team was contracted to deliver a report that described the social and economic contribution of the industry to the local region. We undertook an industry survey, along with input-output modelling using our RISE model. We collaborated with University of Canberra researchers on the social contribution aspects, including making use of their Regional Wellbeing Survey.

Economic impact of native hardwood supply scenarios in Queensland

Client: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Queensland)

Summary: The department needed to understand the potential impacts of a range of scenarios on hardwood sawmilling businesses and the broader economy. The scenarios were potential outcomes from native forest resource planning and policy changes.

BDO worked with the department to develop a range of scenarios of spatial resource availability. We then developed a business level model of the sawmilling industry using survey data and other sources. We applied microsimulation to estimate the vulnerability of each mill to closure under each scenario, and input-output analysis to estimate the expected impact on each local government area in Queensland.

We regularly help our government and not-for-profit clients with the economic and social aspects of environmental issues. The scope of our recent work includes:

  • Development of circular economy and waste strategy
  • Evaluation of the management of invasive species
  • Analysis of environmental protection and conservation
  • Valuation of non-market benefits such as ecosystem services.

Learn how we work with clients on water and environment projects:

Regional Circular Economy Opportunities in South Australia

Client: Green Industries South Australia

Summary: In 2021, Regional Development Australia (RDA) Limestone Coast and RDA Murraylands and Riverland joined with Green Industries SA to drive the creation of circular economy blueprints for these two regions. They engaged BDO’s economics team, Hudson Howells and Rawtec consortium to assist them in developing sector-based circular economy action plans and to develop and trial a replicable approach for other regions to use in developing their own circular economy blueprints.

Economic Impact Analysis of South Australia’s Marine Parks

Client: Department for Environment and Water (DEW)

Summary: The South Australian Government made a 2018 election commitment to review marine park sanctuary zones.  To assist with this Marine Parks Election Commitment, DEW contracted BDO to prepare an independent report titled ‘Environmental, Social and Economic Values of Marine Park Sanctuary Zones’. Environmental, social and economic values for each of the 83 sanctuary zones across the 19 SA marine parks were described and quantified where possible. For 12 focus sanctuary zones that were part of the Amendment Bill, a series of questions guide the information to be collated against environmental, economic and social values and:

  1. The impacts on these values if the status quo is maintained, and
  2. The impacts on these values from changing the existing arrangements.

Cost Benefit Analysis of Stormwater and Urban Tree Canopy Planning Changes

Client: Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure

Collaborators: Tonkin Engineering

Summary: BDO and Tonkin Engineering were commissioned by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, Department for Environment and Water, Department of Treasury and Finance, and SA Health to analyse the cost-effectiveness of the proposed Planning and Design Code policies for minor infill, in relation to:

  • Tree canopy cover and the ‘One Tree Policy’
  • Stormwater management and rainwater tanks

This report was intended to inform decision-making on the cost-effectiveness of proposed Code policy. It aims to improve understanding of all the upfront and long-term costs and benefits of the proposed policies to the individual household and the Greater Adelaide community, and ensure they can be weighed up objectively.

The project involved identifying the costs and benefits of different stormwater management options and the best ways to increase urban tree canopy cover for residential areas in metropolitan Adelaide, with a particular focus on the role of the Planning and Design Code.

We have assisted our not-for-profit and government healthcare clients understand and communicate the economic and social value of their projects. Our recent history has included:

  • Cost benefit analysis of proposed health programs
  • Socioeconomic evaluation of not-for-profit operations
  • Social impact assessment of health programs.

Learn more about our health projects:

Cost benefit analysis of allied health model of care for treatment of long COVID

Client: Department for Health and Wellbeing (South Australia)

Summary: The Allied & Scientific Health Office in SA Health required an economic evaluation of a proposed model of care for long COVID diagnosed patients in South Australia.

The BDO economics team undertook a cost benefit analysis on the model of care. The costs included in the analysis were for delivery of the model. The benefits were from estimated savings elsewhere in the public health system and from avoiding productivity loss through improved treatment. Establishing the base case cost to the public health system from long COVID patients was key to the evaluation. We established the base case through a detailed and collaborative analysis of administrative health costing data.

Social Impact Assessment of Royal Flying Doctor Service Dental Program

Client: Royal Flying Doctor Service

Summary: The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) engaged BDO to undertake a study on the social value of dental services provided by the RFDS Dental Service in Queensland. A qualitative approach using stakeholder engagement was used to establish the most important benefits of the RFDS Dental Service to stakeholders, ways that RFDS contributes to or improves the lives of local communities and what would happen in the absence of the RFDS Dental Service.

Cost Benefit Analysis of Gambling Help Services

Client: Relationships Australia SA

Summary: Relationships Australia SA (RASA) contracted the BDO economics team to quantify the dollar value of (‘monetise’) the net benefit to SA of services provided by RASA through Gambling Help Services over an eight year period. The Cost Benefit Analysis weighs the cost of delivering the program against the benefits generated by the program. The benefits are conceptualised for the purpose of this analysis as cost savings for program participants, their family and friends and the SA community from the participant reducing their consumption of gambling.

We have helped our private and public sector clients to gain approvals and manage stakeholders on a range of energy and mining projects and industries. This have typically included:

  • Socioeconomic impact studies to support approvals
  • Cost-benefit analysis of proposed investments
  • Satellite accounting.

Learn more about some of our energy and mining research projects:

Economic impact assessment of Razorback Project Magnetite Mine

Client: Magnetite Mines Limited

Summary: An ASX listed company focussed on iron ore resources in the Braemar iron region of South Australia, Magnetite Mines is developing the Razorback Iron Ore Project. The project is a planned mining operation which aims to meet accelerating market demand for premium iron ore products.

The BDO economics team has been engaged by Magnetite Mines to conduct an interim economic assessment of the Razorback Project. Our analysis uses internally developed regional input-output (IO) models - known as Regional Industry Structure and Employment (RISE) models - for the local area, region, South Australia and Australia.

Economic impact assessment of Olympic Dam Expansion

Client: BHP

Summary: BHP engaged BDO - to undertake an economic impact assessment of the proposed Olympic Dam Resource Development Strategy. The main objectives were:

  • To describe the economic environment in which the proposal was set
  • To identify and assess potential economic and employment effects for national, state, regional and local contexts.

The analysis was undertaken using dynamic computable general equilibrium modelling (CGE) to capture the dynamic effects in the economy that flow on from large investments and structural change.

Satellite Account for the South Australian Energy and Mining Sector

Client: Department of Energy and Mining

Summary: The BDO economics team was engaged to provide economic indicators that provide a benchmark of the Energy and Mining sector so that Government and industry could measure and monitor performance of the sector over time in terms of jobs generated and income created.

The estimation of economic data describing the Energy and Mining sector involved preparation of satellite accounts which allow an expansion of the information provided in the state input-output (I-O) table. The Energy and Mining sector satellite account was developed to highlight the sector within the state I-O framework. The satellite account in the report provides a detailed picture of the many components of Energy and Mining and highlights significant contributors to the sector.

We have a long history working with infrastructure clients, such as ports, airports, rail and utilities. We frequently collaborate on infrastructure projects with experts from BDO’s Project & Infrastructure Advisory team.

The scope of our social and economic research projects in this sector can be summarised as:

  • Socioeconomic impact studies to support infrastructure approvals
  • Cost-benefit analysis of proposed infrastructure investments
  • Freight demand forecasting
  • Supply-chain cost analysis and scenario modelling.

Learn more about some of our transport and infrastructure projects:

Cost benefit analysis of the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme

Client: SA Water

Summary: SA Water undertook a procurement process to identify the preferred developer of a horticultural enterprise on the Northern Adelaide Plains, to utilise 20 GL of recycled water from the Bolivar wastewater treatment plant. Following a two-stage process - Expression of Interest and Select Request for Proposal - a proponent was selected and required to undertake a feasibility study, to provide additional information for their proposal for a large scale greenhouse. The elements of the Feasibility Study included: Market assessment and strategy, business viability, and water supply trunk infrastructure requirements.

SA Water engaged BDO to assist the project evaluation team to appropriately consider and evaluate the market assessment information contained in the business viability element of the feasibility study.

Kangaroo Island Airport Expansion

Client: Kangaroo Island Council

Summary: The Kangaroo Island Council was seeking funding to expand the airport on the island. The economy of Kangaroo Island is largely based on agriculture, tourism and fishing. These key economic drivers are supported by a range of service industries, including services to agriculture, accommodation and business services. The Island’s economic base is expanding, with recognition of the potential for increased tourism and with new industries being targeted, including horticulture, aquaculture, sustainable development (e.g. renewable energy, wind farms) and forestry.

The BDO economics team provided economic analysis that supported a successful application for funding to expand the airport under the Australian Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund. The analysis included cost benefit analysis and economic impact analysis.

Socioeconomic Impact Assessment of Project EnergyConnect

Client: JBS&G

Summary: JBS&G engaged BDO, on behalf of ElectraNet, to undertake a socio-economic impact assessment of the South Australian portion of the proposed high capacity interconnector between Robertstown in South Australia and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales (Project EnergyConnect). The assessment involved a baseline profile of regional demographics, economics, tourism and residential property. We then assessed the potential positive and negative impacts of the project.

Potential impacts included increased competition for labour, the effects of in-migration (social disruption, pressure on local services, pressure on local businesses and expansion of local businesses), local housing pressures, local price inflation, increased access to rural properties, disruption of landholder operations, landholder amenity effects, local tourism amenity effects, pressures on social cohesion and community identity, loss of property value and new regional investment.

Our economic researchers have undertaken work for a range of tourism industry clients in both the private and public sectors. These projects have included, but are not limited to:

  • Economic impact studies of festivals and other major events and of regional tourism plans
  • Construction of demographic-economic models to estimate impact of decisions and investments on the local population.

Learn how economic research has helped our tourism and hospitality clients in these projects:

Economic Contribution Assessment of the Australian Holiday Parks Sector

Client: Caravan Industry Association of Australia

Summary: The Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) needed updated information about the value and employment support provided by the industry to inform its activities and advocacy.

The BDO economics team undertook economic analysis using comprehensive business data from Parki.Cloud – an industry specific business intelligence platform hosted by BDO – and an in-house national economic model. The results updated and expanded on estimates previously produced by BDO and used frequently by the association. This national economic model now includes a greater emphasis on flow-on regional benefits, as well as direct and in-direct employment generated by caravan and holiday park businesses.

Economic and Social Contribution of Recreational Prospecting

Client: Minelab Electronics

Collaborators: Action Market Research

Summary: Minelab Electronics engaged BDO to undertake an economic and social contribution study of the recreational prospecting industry in Australia. The study examined the role of recreational prospecting in facilitating business and economic activities and the ways that prospecting contributes to the health and wellbeing of prospectors. Primary data was collected via a survey of recreational prospectors in Australia.

To analyse the social contribution of recreational prospecting exploratory bivariate analysis was undertaken to identify whether general health, personal wellbeing and mental health varied with motivations for prospecting. The overall health and wellbeing of prospectors was examined using three measures: personal wellbeing (the personal wellbeing index (PWI)), psychological distress (the Kessler 6 (K6)) and general health.

Economic value of heritage to South Australia

Client: Department of Environment and Water

Collaborators: Action Market Research and Hudson Howells

Summary: Heritage SA commissioned The BDO economics team, in collaboration with Action Market Research and Hudson Howells, to develop a research plan to determine the economic value and contribution of heritage to South Australia. The aim of this research plan and framework was to provide a structured way forward for understanding the economic values and contributions of heritage to South Australia, including recommendations for the types of studies that would be appropriate for answering a set of research questions as set out by Heritage SA.

Concurrently, Heritage SA commissioned BDO to undertake an analysis of the economic contribution of heritage restoration involving State and Local Government investment through 3 major grant programs to the South Australian economy in terms of Gross State Product and employment for the 2019/20 financial year.

Contact us

Contact our team to discuss your needs using the request for service form. Alternatively, call us on 1300 138 991 to speak with an adviser in your nearest BDO office.

Meet our team