Evidence-Based Policy: Promises and Challenges

Abstract
Evidence-based policy is gaining support in many areas of government and in public affairs more generally. In this paper we outline what evidence—based policy is then discuss its strengths and weaknesses. In particular, we argue that it faces a serious challenge to provide a plausible account of evidence. This account needs to be at least in the spirit of the hierarchy of evidence subscribed to by evidence-based medicine (from which evidence—based policy derives its name and inspiration). Yet evidence-based policy’s hierarchy needs to be tailored to the kinds of evidence relevant and available to the policy arena. The evidence required for policy decisions does not easily lend itself to randomised controlled trials (the "gold standard" in evidence-based medicine), nor, for that matter, being listed in a single all—purpose hierarchy
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