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Ex Ante Evaluation of Social Programs

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  • Petra E. TODD
  • Kenneth I. WOLPIN

Abstract

This paper discusses methods for evaluating the impacts of social programs prior to their implementation. Ex ante evaluation is useful for designing programs that achieve some optimality criteria, such as maximizing impact for a given cost. This paper illustrates the use of behavioral models in predicting the impacts of hypothetical programs in a way that is not functional form dependent. The programs considered are programs that operate by affecting the budget constraint, such as wage subsidy programs, conditional cash transfer programs, and income support programs. In some cases, the behavioral model justifies a completely nonparametric estimation strategy, even when there is no direct variation in the policy instrument. In other cases, stronger assumptions are required to evaluate a program ex ante. We illustrate the application of ex ante evaluation methods using data from the PROGRESA school subsidy randomized experiment in Mexico. We assess the effectiveness of the ex ante prediction method by comparing predictions of program impacts to the impacts measured under the randomized experiment. The subsamples pertain to girls and boys aged 12-15. For the girls, the predicted impacts are fairly similar to the actual impacts, both in magnitude and in replicating the age patterns, with larger impacts observed at higher ages. For boys, the predicted impacts tend to overstate the actual impacts. The ex-ante evaluation method is also used to predict the effects of counterfactual programs that include changes to the subsidy schedule and an unconditional income transfer.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by ENSAE in its journal Annals of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): (2008)
Issue (Month): 91-92 ()
Pages: 263-291

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Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2008:i:91-92:p:13

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References

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  1. Hidehiko Ichimura & Christopher Taber, 2000. "Direct estimation of policy impacts," IFS Working Papers W00/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. James L. Heckman, 1999. "Causal Parameters and Policy Analysis in Economcs: A Twentieth Century Retrospective," NBER Working Papers 7333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Hardle, W., 1992. "Applied Nonparametric Methods," Discussion Paper 1992-6, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  5. James J. Heckman, 2001. "Micro Data, Heterogeneity, and the Evaluation of Public Policy: Nobel Lecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 673-748, August.
  6. Lise, Jeremy & Seitz, Shannon & Smith, Jeffrey A., 2003. "Equilibrium Policy Experiments and the Evaluation of Social Programs," IZA Discussion Papers 758, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Manski, Charles F., 1975. "Maximum score estimation of the stochastic utility model of choice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 205-228, August.
  8. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra, 1998. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 261-94, April.
  9. Hidehiko Ichimura & Christopher Taber, 2002. "Semiparametric Reduced-Form Estimation of Tuition Subsidies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 286-292, May.
  10. Behrman, Jere R & Sengupta, Piyali & Todd, Petra, 2005. "Progressing through PROGRESA: An Impact Assessment of a School Subsidy Experiment in Rural Mexico," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(1), pages 237-75, October.
  11. Oliver LINTON, . "Applied nonparametric methods," Statistic und Oekonometrie 9312, Humboldt Universitaet Berlin.
  12. McFadden, Daniel L., 1984. "Econometric analysis of qualitative response models," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 24, pages 1395-1457 Elsevier.
  13. Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1992. "Pension Plan Provisions and Retirement: Men & Women, Medicare, and Models," NBER Working Papers 4201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  15. Heckman, James & Singer, Burton, 1984. "A Method for Minimizing the Impact of Distributional Assumptions in Econometric Models for Duration Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 271-320, March.
  16. Andrews, Donald W K & Schafgans, Marcia M A, 1998. "Semiparametric Estimation of the Intercept of a Sample Selection Model," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(3), pages 497-517, July.
  17. Manski, Charles F., 1986. "Semiparametric analysis of binary response from response-based samples," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 31-40, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Duflo, Esther & Glennerster, Rachel & Kremer, Michael, 2007. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," CEPR Discussion Papers 6059, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Birol, Ekin & Asare-Marfo, Dorene & Ayele, Gezahegn & Mensa-Bonsu, Akwasi & Ndirangu, Lydia & Okpukpara, Benjamin & Roy, Devesh & Yakhshilikov, Yorbol, 2010. "Investigating the role of poultry in livelihoods and the impact of avian flu on livelihoods outcomes in Africa," IFPRI discussion papers 1011, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Petra Todd & Viviana Vélez-Grajales, 2008. "How Pension Rules Affect Work and Contribution Patterns: A Behavioral Model of the Chilean Privatized Pension System," Working Papers wp193, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  4. Cheng, Terence Chai, 2014. "Measuring the effects of reducing subsidies for private insurance on public expenditure for health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 159-179.
  5. Birol, Ekin & Asare-Marfo, Dorene & Ayele, Gezahegn & Mensah-Bonsu, Akwasi & Ndirangu, Lydia & Okpukpara, Benjamin & Roy, Devesh & Yakhshilikov, Yorbol, 2013. "The impact of avian flu on livelihood outcomes in Africa: evidence from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 8(4), October.
  6. Estevan, Fernanda, 2013. "The impact of conditional cash transfers on public education expenditures: A political economy approach," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 268-284.
  7. Shahidur R. Khandker & Gayatri B. Koolwal & Hussain A. Samad, 2010. "Handbook on Impact Evaluation : Quantitative Methods and Practices," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2693, October.

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