When people say “evidence-based policymaking” or they talk about the “credibility revolution, they are surely trying to talk about the fact that (a) we have (or trying hard to have) better evidence on impacts of various approaches to solve problems, and (b) we should use that evidence to make better decisions regarding policy and program design. However, the debate about the Haushofer and Shapiro (2018) paper on the three-year effects of GiveDirectly cash transfers in Kenya taught me that how people interpret the evidence is as important as the underlying evidence. The GiveDirectly blog (that I discussed here, and GiveDirectly posted an update here) and Justin Sandefur’s recent post on the CGD blog are two good examples.
evidence-based policy making
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Fast-forward progress: Leveraging tech to achieve the global goals
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted in 2015 invite global action by 2030 in three overarching areas: end poverty, combat climate change and fight injustice and inequality. Today we see ICT as a powerful enabler for each of the 17 goals, and an essential catalyst in driving rapid transformation of nearly every aspect of our lives.
The Commitment to Development Index 2017
Center for Global Development
The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world's richest countries on policies that affect more than five billion people living in poorer nations. Because development is about more than foreign aid, the Index covers seven distinct policy areas: Aid, Finance, Technology, Environment, Trade, Security, Migration. Why does Commitment to Development matter? In our integrated world, decisions made by rich countries about their own policies and behaviour have repercussions for people in developing nations. At the same time, greater prosperity and security in poorer countries benefit the whole world. They create new economic opportunities, increase innovation, and help reduce risks posed by public health, security, and economic crises. The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) celebrates countries whose policies benefit not only themselves, but also the development of others, and promote our common good.
The Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs)—a set of international targets adopted by the international community last September at the United Nations—recognizes the central role that quality education for all plays in global development.
In South Asian countries, raising the quality of education is already a key policy objective given the development trajectories of these countries and the human capital they need to sustain economic growth.
While school enrollment in South Asia has significantly increased in the last two decades, access to quality education for all remains elusive. A major obstacle to achieving the SDGs by 2030 in South Asia is that vast numbers of children who are in school are not acquiring even basic skills such as reading and numeracy.
Evidence-informed policymaking is gaining importance in several African countries. Networks of researchers and policymakers in Malawi, Uganda, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Benin and Zimbabwe are working assiduously to ensure credible evidence reaches government officials in time and are also building the capacity of policymakers to use the evidence effectively. The Africa Evidence Network (AEN) is one such body working with governments in South Africa and Malawi. It held its first colloquium in November 2014 in Johannesburg.
Africa Evidence Network, the beginning
A network of over 300 policymakers, researchers and practitioners, AEN is now emerging as a regional body in its own right. The network began in December 2012 with a meeting of 20 African representatives at 3ie’s Dhaka Colloquium of Systematic Reviews in International Development.
At the launch of the World Bank's new Education Strategy for 2020 during the "What Works in Education” Policy Research Colloquium this spring, World Bank President Robert Zoellick urged the international development community to focus on interventions that produce learning results and emphasized the vital role that evidence must play in propelling smart investments in education. The strategy also emphasizes the Bank's role in helping countries move beyond the provision of inputs to a system-level approach for improving the quality, performance, and outcomes of education programs.
To improve learning for all, we are rolling out an innovative assessment tool to help our partners use knowledge more effectively to drive education reform.
The System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results (SABER) initiative is being designed to help countries systematically examine and better understand their education system's policies. SABER's policy diagnostics are being built upon a solid evidence base and draws from research on the education policies of well performing or rapidly improving education systems. By leveraging global knowledge, SABER fills a gap in the availability of policy data and evidence on what policies matter most to improve the quality of education and achievement of better results.
We all love good news. This simple fact of life explains a well known syndrome known as publication bias: studies with positive results are more likely to be published than those with negative results. But the syndrome goes beyond academic publications.
In education as well as in other areas of public policy, the pressure to show results (and to justify budgets) creates strong incentives to report on positive stories over and above those showing a lack of results. It is, indeed, easier and more pleasant to write about what works than about what doesn’t work.
A few months ago we launched a new note series, "Evidence to Policy," (or E2P for short) to present in non-technical language results from impact evaluation studies the World Bank has conducted of human development programs. From the start, I wanted to ensure that E2P remains a vehicle for evidence-based development policy and not a vehicle for intellectual bragging and biased reporting.
In conjunction with the new Access to Information policy, the World Bank recently launched the Open Data Initiative, freeing up development data for use to stakeholders worldwide. The new website at data.worldbank.org underlines the importance of data collection and utilization for better tracking trends in global development. Education statistics are prominently featured on the new site and serve as major indicators for two of the eight Millennium Development Goals (#2 universal primary education and #3 gender equality.)