Friday, 29 September 2017

In praise of evaluation

The Ministry of Social Development has been evaluating the effectiveness of its employment assistance programmes.

Here's the key figure.

Note that effectiveness is here defined by whether the programme improves participants' outcomes across income, employment, and independence from welfare. It does not look like it measures cost-effectiveness, but would be a first step toward that. They note that future editions will try for a Welfare Return on Investment measure, and a Social Return on Investment measure.

A big chunk of spending couldn't be evaluated because it's on the childcare assistance programme that's available by entitlement to anyone who asks, and has been for as long as they have reasonable data. And that programme is $183 million.

I wonder whether they might be able to get some mileage by exploiting shortages in childcare availability. After the ECE subsidies came in for more families in the mid-2000s, and the rule changes around qualified ECE staff, there were lots of stories about shortages of available childcare spaces. I know we had our application in for daycare at Canterbury University months and months ahead of Ira's being born. Anyway, if there is any data on where there were and were not shortages of childcare, then that might be exploited to evaluate the effectiveness of the childcare assistance programme. They could also consider the discontinuity at the income boundary for eligibility. 

Kudos for the evaluation work! I hope that this kind of work continues, and look forward to the cost-effectiveness versions to come. 

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