Workshop examines new methods for evaluating public programmes

The evaluation of public programmes, like welfare-to-work, is an area of applied research that has been greatly improved in recent times by the development of new research methods.

The University of Westminster actively engages in applied programme evaluation through two research centres, the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) and the Centre for Employment Research (CER). These methodological improvements have helped us understand better how programmes like assisted job search can change the participants' labour market outcomes, what can be expected from policies that aim to improve individual occupational mobility and whether programmes provide good value for money. In turn, this improved research provides a better evidential base for policymaking.

The key driver of this innovation has been the development of new econometric methods. This workshop aims to increase our understanding of recent methodological developments and improve the analysis of policy effects.

Westminster Applied Evaluation Workshop

The increasing use of random assignment as a research design and econometric innovations when using observational data have improved applied research on public programmes. However, many methodological improvements, which have considerable promise, have yet to be applied to such research.

This workshop, which runs over the course of nine sessions during the current academic year and features researchers from Britain, Europe and the USA, aims to explore the potential of applying such recent innovations to policy practice.

The format of the sessions will aim to encourage more discussion between academics and practitioners. We hope that the workshop can help policy makers and academics to strengthen this important area of applied evaluation research.


Following a review of applied evaluation in the first session, using welfare-to-work policies as an important example, there will be eight seminars in three subject areas: non-experimental evaluation, random assignment and topics in evaluation methods.

The seminars will be chaired by senior researchers from PSI and CER and there will be a comment by an applied researcher to facilitate the discussion.

The following sessions have been confirmed:

  • Reviewing evaluation evidence

    Thursday, 12 November 2009 4pm – 6pm
    Dr Anne Green, Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick
    'A review of evidence and meta-analysis for the DWP'
    (Please note this session will take place at 4-12 Little Titchfield Street, LTS 2.01 Court Room)

  • Non-experimental methods

    Thursday 17 December 2009, 4pm. – 6pm
    Dr Erich Battistin, University of Padova
    ' Another look at the Regression Discontinuity Design'

    Thursday 14 January 2010, 4pm – 6pm
    Dr Monica Costa-Dias, University of Porto
    ' Alternative approaches to evaluation in empirical microeconomics'

    Thursday 11 February 2010, 4pm – 6pm
    Pedro Carneiro, Ph.D., University College London
    'Marginal Policy Changes and the Average Effect of Treatment for Individuals at the Margin'

  • Random assignment

    Thursday 11 March 2010, 4pm. – 6pm
    Dr Carole Torgerson, University of York
    'Randomised controlled trials in educational research'

    Thursday 15 April 2010, 4pm – 6pm
    Prof Howard Bloom, Ph.D., MDRC New York
    'Cluster-randomised studies'

  • Topics in applied evaluation

    Thursday 6 May 2010, 4pm – 6pm
    Dr Ralf Wilke, University of Nottingham
    ' Bounds analysis of competing risks: a nonparametric evaluation of the effect of unemployment benefits on migration in Germany'

    Thursday 27 May 2010, 4pm – 6pm
    Dr Barbara Sianesi, Institute for Fiscal Studies
    'Differential effects of active labour market programs for the unemployed'

    Wednesday 16 June 2010, 4pm – 6pm
    Prof Dr Michael Lechner, University of St. Gallen
    'Multiple programme participation'


From February 2010, the seminars will be hosted by HMRC in central London. If you would like to book a place, please use our booking form.


For further information, visit the workshop website.