Data & Methods

Evaluating and creating rigorous public policy—ideas rooted in credible data and designed to improve lives and strengthen communities—requires a broad portfolio of tools. Policy development occurs in multiple states and extends over time. Policymakers need evidence at each step in order to help them

  • diagnose problems and underlying causes;
  • design new policy options and assess the likely effects of alternatives;
  • demonstrate and evaluate the impacts of new, model programs;
  • monitor program implementation, measuring costs and performance and their sensitivity to different settings; and
  • evaluate the long-term impacts and cost-effectiveness of existing programs.

No single research methodology or dataset can deliver that wide variety of evidence. Instead, we need a portfolio of rigorous instruments to advance evidence-based policy effectively.


Data Collection

Urban Institute researchers take advantage of dozens of existing quantitative data sets to study the world. These data come from the many federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as from dozens of private and proprietary sources.

Data Analysis

Effective analysis of broad, complex research questions requires a rich tool kit of methods. Urban researchers use quantitative and qualitative strategies to provide rigorous and nuanced explanations of the meaning behind the data.