The Case for Evidence-Based Policy: Beyond Ideology, Politics, and Guesswork

Research Report

The Case for Evidence-Based Policy: Beyond Ideology, Politics, and Guesswork

(revised 2008)

Abstract

U.S. public policy has increasingly been conceived, debated, and evaluated through the lenses of politics and ideology. The fundamental question--Will the policy work?--too often gets short shrift or even ignored. A remedy is evidence-based policy -- a rigorous approach that draws on careful data collection, experimentation, and both quantitative and qualitative analysis to determine what the problem is, which ways it can be addressed, and the probable impacts of each of these ways. Examples of how evidence informs good policy and lack of evidence can invite bad include health insurance coverage, welfare reform, sentencing policy, and redress for housing discrimination.

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