In this Book

Fighting for Reliable Evidence
summary
Once primarily used in medical clinical trials, random assignment experimentation is now accepted among social scientists across a broad range of disciplines. The technique has been used in social experiments to evaluate a variety of programs, from microfinance and welfare reform to housing vouchers and teaching methods. How did randomized experiments move beyond medicine and into the social sciences, and can they be used effectively to evaluate complex social problems? Fighting for Reliable Evidence provides an absorbing historical account of the characters and controversies that have propelled the wider use of random assignment in social policy research over the past forty years.Drawing from their extensive experience evaluating welfare reform programs, noted scholar practitioners Judith M. Gueron and Howard Rolston portray randomized experiments as a vital research tool to assess the impact of social policy. In a random assignment experiment, participants are sorted into either a treatment group that participates in a particular program, or a control group that does not. Because the groups are randomly selected, they do not differ from one another systematically. Therefore any subsequent differences between the groups can be attributed to the influence of the program or policy. The theory is elegant and persuasive, but many scholars worry that such an experiment is too difficult or expensive to implement in the real world. Can a control group be truly insulated from the treatment policy? Would staffers comply with the random allocation of participants? Would the findings matter?Weaving history, data analysis and personal experience, Fighting for Reliable Evidence offers valuable lessons for researchers, policymakers, funders, and informed citizens interested in isolating the effect of policy initiatives. It is an essential primer on welfare policy, causal inference, and experimental designs.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
  2. pp. i-iv
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
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  1. Tables and Figures
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. About the Authors
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Acknowledgements and Dedication
  2. pp. xv-xviii
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  1. Chapter 1: Introduction: The Issue, the Method, and the Story in Brief
  2. pp. 1-21
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  1. Chapter 2: They Said It Couldn’t Be Done: The National Supported Work Demonstration
  2. pp. 22-65
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  1. Chapter 3: Bridge to the 1980s: Implementing Random Assignment in Work Incentive Program Offices and Testing a Job Guarantee
  2. pp. 66-87
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  1. Chapter 4: Inventing a New Paradigm: The States as Laboratories
  2. pp. 88-140
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  1. Chapter 5: The Reagan Revolution and Research Capacity Within the Department of Health and Human Services: From Near Destruction to New Growth
  2. pp. 141-180
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  1. Chapter 6: The Work/Welfare Demonstration: Lessons About Programs, Research, and Dissemination
  2. pp. 181-216
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  1. Chapter 7: Waiver Evaluations: How Random Assignment Evaluation Came to Be the Standard for Approval
  2. pp. 217-261
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  1. Chapter 8: Expanding the Agenda: The Role of Basic Education
  2. pp. 262-310
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  1. Chapter 9: The JOBS Evaluation: Cumulative Evidence on Basic Education Versus Work First
  2. pp. 311-353
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  1. Chapter 10: Expanding the Agenda II: Three Experiments to Make Work Pay
  2. pp. 354-387
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  1. Chapter 11: The End of Our Story: Welfare Reform Recedes from the Spotlight of Random Assignment Program Evaluation
  2. pp. 388-422
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  1. Chapter 12: Conclusion and Lessons
  2. pp. 423-454
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  1. CODA: Random Assignment Takes Center Stage
  2. pp. 455-472
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  1. Appendix
  2. pp. 473-478
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. 479-480
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 481-536
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  1. NOTE ON SOURCES
  2. pp. 537-538
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  1. References
  2. pp. 539-552
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 553-576
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