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The Methodology of Normative Policy Analysis

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  • Christopher, Robert
  • Zeckhauser, Richard Jay

Abstract

Policy analyses frequently clash. Their disagreements stem from many sources, including models, empirical estimates, and values such as who should have standing and how different criteria should be weighted. We provide a simple taxonomy of disagreement, identifying distinct categories within both the positive and values domains of normative policy analysis. Using disagreements in climate policy to illustrate, we demonstrate how illuminating the structure of disagreement helps to clarify the way forward. We conclude by suggesting a structure for policy analysis that can facilitate assessment, comparison, and debate by laying bare the most likely sources of disagreement.

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Paper provided by Harvard Kennedy School of Government in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4669672.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Publication status: Published in HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:4669672

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  1. Robert N. Stavins, 2008. "Addressing climate change with a comprehensive US cap-and-trade system," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 298-321, Summer.
  2. Lawrence H. Summers & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 2008. "Policymaking for Posterity," NBER Working Papers 14359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
  4. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
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  6. Dani Rodrik, 2010. "Diagnostics before Prescription," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 33-44, Summer.
  7. Dale Whittington & Duncan MacRae, 1986. "The issue of standing in cost-benefit analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(4), pages 665-682.
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  9. Schelling, Thomas C, 1992. "Some Economics of Global Warming," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 1-14, March.
  10. Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
  11. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
  12. Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senate Ideology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 425-41, June.
  13. Morris, Stephen, 1995. "The Common Prior Assumption in Economic Theory," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 227-253, October.
  14. E. Roy Weintraub, 1993. "Editor's Introduction," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 117-119, Spring.
  15. Lant Pritchett, 2002. "It pays to be ignorant: A simple political economy of rigorous program evaluation," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(4), pages 251-269.
  16. William Wascher & David Neumark, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1362-1396, December.
  17. Hank C. Jenkins-Smith, 1982. "Professional roles for policy analysts: A critical assessment," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 2(1), pages 88-100.
  18. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
  19. William N. Trumbull, 1990. "Who has standing in cost-benefit analysis?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 201-218.
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