Evidence-based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing It Better

ISBN : 9780199841622

Nancy Cartwright; Jeremy Hardie
208 Pages
162 x 234 mm
Pub date
Dec 2012
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Over the last twenty or so years, it has become standard to require policy makers to base their recommendations on evidence. That is now uncontroversial to the point of triviality-of course, policy should be based on the facts. But are the methods that policy makers rely on to gather and analyze evidence the right ones? In Evidence-Based Policy, Nancy Cartwright, an eminent scholar, and Jeremy Hardie, who has had a long and successful career in both business and the economy, explain that the dominant methods which are in use now-broadly speaking, methods that imitate standard practices in medicine like randomized control trials-do not work. They fail, Cartwright and Hardie contend, because they do not enhance our ability to predict if policies will be effective. The prevailing methods fall short not just because social science, which operates within the domain of real-world politics and deals with people, differs so much from the natural science milieu of the lab. Rather, there are principled reasons why the advice for crafting and implementing policy now on offer will lead to bad results. Current guides in use tend to rank scientific methods according to the degree of trustworthiness of the evidence they produce. That is valuable in certain respects, but such approaches offer little advice about how to think about putting such evidence to use. Evidence-Based Policy focuses on showing policymakers how to effectively use evidence. It also explains what types of information are most necessary for making reliable policy, and offers lessons on how to organize that information.


Preface: Do You Want to Read this Book? Putting our Conclusions First
Part I: Getting Started: From 'It Worked There' to 'It Will Work Here'.
Chapter I.A: What's in This Book and Why
Chapter I.B: The Theory that Backs up What We Say
Part II: Paving the Road from 'There' to 'Here'
Chapter II.A: Support Factors: Causal Cakes and their Ingredients
Chapter II.B: Causal Roles: Shared and Unshared
Part III: Strategies for Finding What You Need to Know
Chapter III.A: Where We are and Where We are Going
Chapter III.B: Four Strategies
Part IV: RCTs, Evidence-Ranking Schemes, and Fidelity
Chapter IV.A: Where We are and Where We are Going
Chapter IV.B: What are RCTs Good For?
Chapter IV.C: Evidence-Ranking Schemes, Advice Guides, and Choosing Effective Policies
Chapter IV.D: Fidelity
Part V: Deliberation is not Second Best
Chapter V.A: Where We are and Where We are Going
Chapter V.B: Centralization and Discretion
Part VI: Conclusion
Appendix I: Representing Causal Processes
Appendix II: The Munro Review
Appendix III: CCTV and Car Theft

About the author: 

Nancy Cartwright is Professor of Philosophy at UC-San Diego and London School of Economics. Jeremy Hardie is an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford and a Fellow of King's College London; he is also Vice President of the Royal Economic Society, and was Chairman of the WH Smith Group from 1992 to 2010.

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