About PEPA

Programme Director: Lorraine Dearden

Answering questions about the effectiveness of state interventions in economic and social domains - such as 'Did this training programme help the participants get back to work ?', or 'Did this child health programme improve children's outcomes ?' - is the goal of programme evaluation.

Robust programme evaluation is difficult: researchers have to estimate causal impacts credibly and understand the uncertainty in their estimates, and policy-makers have to determine how best to synthesize and generalise the lessons learned from multiple studies.

PEPA aims to stimulate a step change in the conduct of programme evaluation, and maximise the value of programme evaluation by improving the design of evaluations and improving the way that such evaluations add to the knowledge base.

Three challenges for programme evaluation

  • We know the outcomes for participants on a training programme. But what was the counterfactual ?
  • Given the counter-factual, we can estimate the programme's impact. But how certain are we ?
  • Given that the evaluation has been done, how can we get the most value from it ? How can we generalize what we learn from this evaluation to other training programs ? How should we synthesize the lessons learned from multiple studies of different training programs ?

Programme research aims

PEPA research programme aims to:

  • advance our understanding of the value of randomised control trials in social science
  • improve inference for policy evaluation
  • develop the key relationships between alternative methods for policy evaluation
  • understand how best to combine quasi-experimental methods with dynamic behavioural models
  • determine how to measure social networks and then use such data for programme evaluation

PEPA apply the methods they develop to evaluate a number of important policy questions, and run a programme of training and capacity building activities.

PEPA is based at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and cemmap.

Further information about PEPA.