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Pourquoi s'intéresser à la notion d'"Evidence -based policy" ?
[Why should we care about evidence-based policy?]


  • Laurent, Catherine
  • Baudry, Jacques
  • Berrier-Solliec, Marielle
  • Kirsch, Marc
  • Perraud, Daniel
  • Tinel, Bruno
  • Trouvé, Aurélie
  • Allsopp, Nicky
  • Bonnafous, Partrick
  • Burel, Françoise
  • Carneiro, Maria Jose
  • Giraud, Christophe
  • Labarte, Pierre
  • Matose, Frank
  • Ricroch, Agnès


"Evidence-based medicine” approaches began to be formalized in the early 1990s to promote a conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in decision-making on care for individual patients. These approaches were subsequently extended to other spheres of public decision (education, justice, environment, poverty alleviation, etc.), giving birth to the concept of "evidence-based policy” (EBP). In the Francophone world, with the exception of the medical sector, these approaches are not well known. This is partly a problem of translation. In French, no concept associates the idea of empirical corroboration with that of proof, unlike English where they are both encapsulated in the word "evidence". The lack of familiarity with EBP also results from an intellectual tradition that is suspicious of simplistic pragmatisms in public action, which are believed to favour a principle of immediate effectiveness, regardless of the multiple dimensions of such action. The increasing use of the EBP concept is consequently often equated to mere rhetoric or to an attempt to depoliticize the debate by defending a normative model of decision-making grounded in the rational choice theory. This article presents a critical analysis of the debates on EBP. It shows how these debates argue for a renewal of positive approaches to public decision-making, primarily by proposing methods that facilitate circulation within the realm of existing knowledge, and that assess the quality of the empirical content of that knowledge. The article emphasizes the point that such debates contributes to offering an alternative to the increasing use of knowledge models based too exclusively on expert opinions or simulations that disclaim empirical validation tests. Finally, it suggests the need for more in-depth reflection on the types of evidence and the levels of proof that could support the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies, and points to some paths in that direction.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurent, Catherine & Baudry, Jacques & Berrier-Solliec, Marielle & Kirsch, Marc & Perraud, Daniel & Tinel, Bruno & Trouvé, Aurélie & Allsopp, Nicky & Bonnafous, Partrick & Burel, Françoise & Carneiro,, 2009. "Pourquoi s'intéresser à la notion d'"Evidence -based policy" ?
    [Why should we care about evidence-based policy?]
    ," MPRA Paper 27073, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:27073

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Labrousse, Agnès, 2010. "Nouvelle économie du développement et essais cliniques randomisés : une mise en perspective d’un outil de preuve et de gouvernement," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 7.
    2. Jean Cartier-Bresson, 2013. "Le pouvoir du positivisme et ses limites : microéconométrie et macroéconométrie actuelles du développement," Working Papers hal-00847005, HAL.

    More about this item


    Evidence based policy; public policies; development; scientific knowledge; proofs; agriculture; environment; biodiversity; France; Brasil; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • B29 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Other
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights


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