An important part of our mission at the Centre is to increase the evidence base policymakers have to draw upon when making decisions about policies to improve economic growth. In fields like medicine, evaluation through the use of Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) is accepted practice. Robust evaluation is also becoming an established element in the improvement of international development and aid interventions. But in the field of local economic growth there is still a long way to go to improve evaluation.
Discussions of economic impact evaluation are often very technical and full of jargon, but the basic ideas about how we can improve evaluation are not complicated. They include things like making sure that you consider evaluation before the project starts, having a baseline and control group against which to measure change, and focusing on one or two of the most crucial outcomes.
We ran a series of blogs on the subject of ‘How to Evaluate’ last year – providing some simple guidance to demystify the subject. They have proven to be some of our most popular blogs, and we have now pulled them together into a single document for easy reference, with links to the relevant resources on our website and online.
Different aspects of economic growth require very different evaluation approaches, so later in the month we will also be introducing a wider range of sample evaluations covering all of our policy areas (to address the ‘plagiarise’ element in our evaluation guidance). We hope that these resources – along with others, such as Max Nathan’s excellent pair of blogs on data – will make it easier for local policymakers and practitioners to build evaluation into their work, better understand their impact, and help provide better evidence for others to use.