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The Methodology of Normative Policy Analysis

  • Robert, Christopher

    (Harvard Kennedy School)

  • Zeckhauser, Richard

    (Harvard Kennedy School)

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 University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp11-004.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp11-004
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  1. Hylland, Aanund & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1979. " Distributional Objectives Should Affect Taxes but not Program Choice or Design," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 81(2), pages 264-84.
  2. Robert N. Stavins, 2008. "Addressing Climate Change with a Comprehensive U.S. Cap-and-Trade System," Working Papers 2008.67, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  3. Ron Haskins, 1991. "Congress writes a law: Research and welfare reform," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 616-632.
  4. E. Roy Weintraub, 1993. "Editor's Introduction," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 117-119, Spring.
  5. Summers, Lawrence & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2008. "Policymaking for Posterity," Working Paper Series rwp08-040, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  6. Dani Rodrik, 2010. "Diagnostics before Prescription," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 33-44, Summer.
  7. Schelling, Thomas C, 1992. "Some Economics of Global Warming," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 1-14, March.
  8. 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, vol. 90(5), pages 1362-1396, December.
  9. Morris, Stephen, 1995. "The Common Prior Assumption in Economic Theory," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 227-253, October.
  10. 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.
  11. 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, vol. 86(3), pages 425-41, June.
  12. Lant Pritchett, 2002. "It pays to be ignorant: A simple political economy of rigorous program evaluation," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(4), pages 251-269.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  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. Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
  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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