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A note on the impact evaluation of public policies: the counterfactual analysis


  • Loi, Massimo
  • Rodrigues, Margarida


This report describes concisely, and in an intuitive way, the policy evaluation framework and the different counterfactual analysis evaluation strategies: propensity score matching, regression discontinuity design, differences-in-differences and instrumental variables. For each method we present the main assumptions it relies on and the data requirements. These methodologies apply to any type of policy and, in general, to any type of intervention. A selection of papers applying this approach in the context of labour market interventions is also included.

Suggested Citation

  • Loi, Massimo & Rodrigues, Margarida, 2012. "A note on the impact evaluation of public policies: the counterfactual analysis," MPRA Paper 42444, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:42444

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruno Crépon & Esther Duflo & Marc Gurgand & Roland Rathelot & Philippe Zamora, 2013. "Do Labor Market Policies have Displacement Effects? Evidence from a Clustered Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 531-580.
    2. A. Smith, Jeffrey & E. Todd, Petra, 2005. "Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 305-353.
    3. David E. Card & Pablo Ibarraran & Juan Miguel Villa, 2011. "Building in an Evaluation Component for Active Labor Market Programs: A Practitioner's Guide," SPD Working Papers 1101, Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness (SPD).
    4. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
    5. Alberto Abadie & Joshua Angrist & Guido Imbens, 2002. "Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Effect of Subsidized Training on the Quantiles of Trainee Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 91-117, January.
    6. repec:spr:portec:v:1:y:2002:i:2:d:10.1007_s10258-002-0010-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2009. "Alternative Approaches to Evaluation in Empirical Microeconomics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
    8. Marco Caliendo & Sabine Kopeinig, 2008. "Some Practical Guidance For The Implementation Of Propensity Score Matching," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(1), pages 31-72, February.
    9. Battistin, Erich & Rettore, Enrico, 2008. "Ineligibles and eligible non-participants as a double comparison group in regression-discontinuity designs," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 715-730, February.
    10. Barbara Sianesi, 2004. "An Evaluation of the Swedish System of Active Labor Market Programs in the 1990s," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 133-155, February.
    11. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
    12. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
    13. Hujer, Reinhard & Caliendo, Marco, 2000. "Evaluation of Active Labour Market Policy: Methodological Concepts and Empirical Estimates," IZA Discussion Papers 236, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Brian Bell & Richard Blundell & John Reenen, 1999. "Getting the Unemployed Back to Work: The Role of Targeted Wage Subsidies," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(3), pages 339-360, August.
    15. 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, March.
    16. Lechner, Michael, 1999. "Earnings and Employment Effects of Continuous Off-the-Job Training in East Germany after Unification," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 17(1), pages 74-90, January.
    17. Caliendo, Marco & Hujer, Reinhard & Thomsen, Stephan L., 2005. "The Employment Effects of Job Creation Schemes in Germany: A Microeconometric Evaluation," IZA Discussion Papers 1512, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Peter Z. Schochet & John Burghardt & Sheena McConnell, 2008. "Does Job Corps Work? Impact Findings from the National Job Corps Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1864-1886, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brunetti, Irene & Corsini, Lorenzo, 2014. "Workplace Training Programs: Instruments for Human Capital Improvements or Screening Devices?," MPRA Paper 55943, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Sara Pavone & Elena Ragazzi & Lisa Sella, 2015. "Sostenere le imprese agro-industriali in Piemonte: un’analisi controfattuale," SCIENZE REGIONALI, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2015(3 Suppl.), pages 129-143.
    3. Liesbeth Colen & Sergio Gomez Y Paloma & Uwe Latacz-Lohmann & Marianne Lefebvre & Sophie Thoyer & Raphaële Préget, 2015. "(How) can economic experiments inform EU agricultural policy?," JRC Working Papers JRC97340, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).

    More about this item


    counterfactual analysis; propensity score matching; regression discontinuity; difference in difference; instrumental variables;

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General

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