The Impact Evaluation Gap

Policy evaluation is the kind of stuff we rarely address properly in universities. If nothing else, this is an area were the dismal science can really shed light and prove to be useful.

When Will We Ever Learn? Improving Lives Through Impact Evaluation

Download (PDF, 536 KB) 05/31/2006

Each year billions of dollars are spent on thousands of programs to improve health, education and other social sector outcomes in the developing world. But very few programs benefit from studies that could determine whether or not they actually made a difference. This absence of evidence is an urgent problem: it not only wastes money but denies poor people crucial support to improve their lives.

This report by the Evaluation Gap Working Group provides a strategic solution to this problem addressing this gap, and systematically building evidence about what works in social development, proving it is possible to improve the effectiveness of domestic spending and development assistance by bringing vital knowledge into the service of policymaking and program design.

In 2004 the Center for Global Development, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, convened the Evaluation Gap Working Group. The group was asked to investigate why rigorous impact evaluations of social development programs, whether financed directly by developing country governments or supported by international aid, are relatively rare. The Working Group was charged with developing proposals to stimulate more and better impact evaluations. This report, the final report of the working group, contains specific recommendations for addressing this urgent problem.

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