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Programme evaluation: counterfactual analysis and good practices

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Keywords: programme evaluation, causality, counterfactual analysis, labour policies, incentives to firms, education policies, welfare programmes

Many empirical issues in economics and other social sciences depend on causal effects of programmes or policies. In the last decades research on statistical and econometric methods to evaluate the effects of such policies has undergone remarkable advances. It has by now reached a level of maturity that makes it an important tool in many areas of empirical research in the social sciences, such as education, research & development, labour economics, industrial organisation, urban development, welfare and poverty, epidemiology, etc. This plain review presents and discusses some of the recent developments, and complements them with a historical overview of the topic. The focus is on the logical frame of programme evaluation, based on counterfactual analysis, and on the relevance of practices of policy design and implementation which incorporate the goal of a credible evaluation of their effects. In this perspective, some good practices of policy evaluation in developed countries are also briefly presented.

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