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Policy for plenty: measuring the benefits of policy-oriented social science research

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Author Info

  • Norton, George W.
  • Alwang, Jeffrey

Abstract

This paper suggests practical methods for assessing policy research programs, both ex post and ex ante. Measuring the benefits of policy research is difficult: the path of causation between research and policy change is nearly always uncertain; multiple factors influence any particular policy change; policies are diverse in nature as are their intended and actual effects; and some effects of policy research are not priced in the market. Many of the benefits of changes in policy stem from the reduced cost of welfare-improving institutional change. Economic surplus analysis can be used to assess such changes. In some cases, Bayesian decision theory may be helpful in evaluating policy research, although it is usually difficult to obtain estimates of the probability distributions a decisionmaker has before the research becomes available. Subjective estimates of parameters and some measure of their degree of uncertainty, are likely to be needed for an economic surplus model. The paper suggests a set of steps for policy research evaluation. It is applied to two cases: an evaluation of pesticide policy research in Brazil, and an evaluation of policies affecting deforestation in Indonesia.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series Impact assessments with number 6.

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Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fpr:impass:6

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Related research

Keywords: Pesticides.; Indonesia.; Deforestation Brazil.; Development projects.; Impact assessment;

References

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  1. Freebairn, J W, 1976. "The Value and Distribution of the Benefits of Commodity Price Outlook Information," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 52(138), pages 199-212, June.
  2. Norton, George W. & Schuh, G. Edward, 1980. "Evaluating Returns to Social Science Research: Issues and Possible Methods," Evaluation of Agricultural Research, Proceedings of a Workshop, Minneapolis, MN, May 12-13, 1980, Miscellaneous Publication 8 49076, University of Minnesota, Agricultural Experiment Station.
  3. Schultz, Theodore W, 1975. "The Value of the Ability to Deal with Disequilibria," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 827-46, September.
  4. Hayami, Yujiro & Peterson, Willis, 1972. "Social Returns to Public Information Services: Statistical Reporting of U. S. Farm Commodities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 119-30, March.
  5. George W. Norton & Jeffrey Alwang, 1997. "Measuring the Benefits of Policy Research," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1534-1538.
  6. Norton, George W., 1987. "Evaluating Social Science Research in Agriculture," Evaluating Agricultural Research and Productivity, Proceedings of a Workshop, Atlanta, Georgia, January 29-30, 1987, Miscellaneous Publication 52 50028, University of Minnesota, Agricultural Experiment Station.
  7. Anderson, Jock R. & Feder, Gershon, 2007. "Agricultural Extension," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Elsevier.
  8. Samuel Fankhauser, 1994. "The Social Costs of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: An Expected Value Approach," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 157-184.
  9. Bradford, David F & Kelejian, Harry H, 1977. "The Value of Information for Crop Forecasting in a Market System: Some Theoretical Issues," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 519-31, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Babu, Suresh Chandra., 2000. "Impact of IFPRI's policy research on resource allocation and food security in Bangladesh," Impact assessments 13, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Anderson, Jock R., 1997. "Policy and Management Work within International Agricultural Research," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 41(4), December.
  3. Ahmed, Mohamed A.M. & Shideed, Kamel & Mazid, Ahmed, 2010. "Returns to Policy-Oriented Agricultural Research: The Case of Barley Fertilization in Syria," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1462-1472, October.

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