Evidence-based policymaking: Best practices for policy design and evaluation



29 January 2013


Sheraton on the Park, Sydney

The term evidence-based policy; is in wide use today, but there is a large gap between the empirical analysis that academic experts recommend and what is typically done in policymaking circles. Partly this reflects a lack of communication between scholars and practitioners about advances in methodologies. A major development in the social sciences in the past two decades has been the refinement and application of experimental and quasi-experimental techniques for empirical analysis. In particular, scholarly work has emphasized the value of randomised evaluations as a method for measuring the effects of policies and programs. The approach has been applied to study a diverse range of issues, including job training, policing of domestic violence, health insurance, school vouchers, immunisations, microfinance, and household savings.

Conference speakers included leading academic experts; visitors from Harvard and MIT and Australian scholars; who discussed the use of these new approaches and methodologies with Australian policymakers. Topics included: incorporating theory into design, analysis with existing program data, pilot testing alternative designs, randomized evaluations, the management of evaluations, and interpreting and sharing findings. Discussions covered applications in a range of policy areas and settings, including: job training and employment, education, health care, credit and savings, housing, law enforcement, community reconciliation, anti-discrimination, and immigration.

A US Studies Centre event held in association with Harvard University.


  • Professor Esther Duflo
    Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, MIT

    Esther Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT and a founder and director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Duflo is an NBER Research Associate, serves on the board of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), and is Director of the Center of Economic Policy Research's development economics program. Her research focuses on microeconomic issues in developing countries, including household behavior, education, access to finance, health and policy evaluation.

  • Professor Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee
    Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics, MIT

    Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee was educated at the University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D in 1988. He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2003 he founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), along with Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan and remains one of the directors of the lab. In 2009 J-PAL won the BBVA Foundation "Frontier of Knowledge" award in the development cooperation category.

  • Associate Professor Bruno Crépon
    , Ecole Polytechnique

    Bruno Crépon is in charge of the Laboratory for the Evaluation of Public Policies at CREST. He is an associate professor at Ecole Polytechnique and ENSAE. His main research activity is evaluation of labor market programs especially running randomized evaluation. He has published in the Journal of American Statistical Association, the Journal of Econometrics, the Journal of Applied Econometrics, the Journal of Political Economy, and other journals. Bruno Crépon is a research fellow of CEPR (London) and since April 2004 of IZA. He is an affiliate of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab-Europe

  • Professor Michael Hiscox
    Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Department of Government, Harvard University

    Michael J. Hiscox was director of the Sustainability, Transparency, Accountability Research (STAR) Lab at the US Studies Centre until October 2015. Hiscox is the Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Government, Harvard University. His research has examined international trade and immigration policy, economic development, global supply chains, corporate responsibility and sustainability initiatives, and policies addressing economic, social, and public health issues in several countries.

  • Professor Jeff Borland
    Member of the International Academic Advisory Committee, United States Studies Centre

    Professor Jeff Borland is a member of the US Studies Centre's International Academic Advisory Committee. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne.