Today marks the launch of Policy Impacts, an independent research and policy organization that was born out of research conducted at Opportunity Insights. Policy Impacts is dedicated to improving government decision-making by developing and promoting a consistent method for evaluating the impacts of a wide range of public policies.
“The goal of Policy Insights is to give policymakers, researchers, and philanthropists a set of tools for identifying and comparing cost-effective policies” says economist Nathan Hendren, co-director of Opportunity Insights and co-director of the new Policy Impacts.
Current approaches to measuring and comparing various types of policies are often inconsistent and vary significantly by subject area. This makes it more difficult for policymakers to identify which policies have the highest returns on investment and decide which programs should be implemented when resources are limited.
Policy Impacts is dedicated to promoting a methodology known as the Marginal Value of Public Funds (MVPF). The MVPF is a standardized metric that allows researchers to measure the “bang for the buck” of spending on any given policy. Unlike most traditional cost-benefit analyses, the MVPF focuses on measuring long-run government costs. It captures both initial program costs and any long-run effect that a policy might have on the government’s budget. This helps decision-makers determine which are the most cost effective. It can also be used to identify policies that “pay for themselves”
Policy Impacts has launched a website that is live at: www.policyimpacts.org. The website features the Policy Impacts Library, a collaborative database of over 100 rigorous policy evaluations and their associated MVPFs. In the months ahead, the organization will work with researchers and evaluators to apply the MVPF to new research and incorporate new MVPF estimates in the Policy Impacts Library.
Policy Impacts will be hosting an inaugural research conference on August 12, 2021. The conference will feature leading economists who are incorporating MVPF estimates into their research. The conference will feature presentations by Lawrence Katz, Hilary Hoynes, Amy Finkelstein, Christopher Walters, Joshua Angrist, and Elisa Jácome.
Policy Impacts is also launching a grant program for early-career scholars. This grant program will provide financial support and technical assistance to untenured faculty and graduate students. Grant recipients will present their work at the 2022 Policy Impacts Conference.
Policy Impacts will be working to encourage the use of the MVPF in future policy evaluations. The organization will provide advice and technical support to non-profits and policy evaluators interested in producing MVPF estimates to calculate policy effectiveness. To learn more about the MVPF and the work of Policy Impacts, visit www.policyimpacts.org.