Evaluating the impact of public interventions: methods and case studies


Research Project supported by the Italian Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, 2005

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This research proposal fits the strand of the literature that emphasises the relevance of the micro-level analysis of the effects of public policies. It builds on previous research supported by grants from the Italian Ministry of Research and Education, all co-ordinated by Ugo Trivellato: a project financed in 1997, on "Labour supply and unemployment: issues of measurement and analysis"; a second one financed in 1999 on "Employment and unemployment in Italy: measurement issues and behavioural analyses"; a third one financed in 2001 on “Dynamics and inertia in the Italian labour market and policies evaluation”; finally, an on-going one on "Evaluating the effects of labour policies, incentives to firms, and welfare policies: methodological issues and case-studies". 

The distinct features of the present project are: 

  1. the focus on the methodological framework of programme evaluation and

  2. the analysis of selected policies in three fields: human capital and labour market, incentives to firms and welfare.

In what follows we will place the contents of this project into the relevant scientific background, and we will discuss the previous research experience of the members of the research team. A brief overview of the literature on programme evaluation is presented, while references to the literature relevant for the case studies we plan to work on are kept to the bare essentials (more details are in the projects of the five research units).

Enrico Rettore has been working on issues of measurement and analysis of the Italian
labour market since the mid-'80s. Relevant to the current project are the following elements of his past research work.
1. Since the early 90s, together with other members of this group, his research interests focused on the study of labour supply, unemployment and their dynamics within relevant grants by MURST ("Panel data and models of labour supply") and CNR (strategic project "Unemployment and the low level of activity in Italy: specific causes and adequate remedies"). Several empirical and methodological contributions on labour market dynamics in Italy have been presented at international conferences and are published in well-known journals (see his co-authored papers in the section "References", Mod. B of the RU in Padova).
2. He was member of the research project "Labour supply and unemployment: issues of measurement and analysis", co-funded by MURST in 1997, working on the following research areas: (a) analysis of labour market data using Netlabor, the data-base resulting from the administrative process in the public labour exchanges. (b) analysis of gross flows and the relationships between (un)employment and living conditions. (c) evaluation of labour market programmes, with attention to both methodological and empirical research questions. These three research streams are directly relevant to the aims of the current research proposal, as the thoughtful knowledge of available data sources for the analysis of the Italian labour market represents a fundamental basis for any credible evaluation exercise.
The same research ideas were further developed in projects funded by MURST/MIUR in 1999, 2001 and 2003. Previous work relevant to the current proposal is the book edited by Trivellato (2001), Martini and Trivellato (1997), Rettore and Trivellato (1999) Rettore, Trivellato and Martini (2003), Battistin and Rettore (2005) together with the quantitative evaluation of several active labour market programmes in Italy (see Battistin, Gavosto and Rettore, 2001; Battistin and Rettore, 2002; Contini et al., 2002; Paggiaro, Rettore and Trivellato, 2004).

The RU in Firenze is directed by Fabrizia Mealli. She holds a BA in Economics and a PhD in Applied Statistics from the Department of Statistics, University of Florence. In 1993 and 1994, she worked as Research Assistant and Research Associate at the Department of Applied Economics (Cambridge University, UK) and of Economics (University di Leicester, UK), collaborating at research projects on the evaluation of the British Youth Training Scheme. In 2001 she was Visiting Fellow at the Department of Economics, UCLA (USA), and in 2002 she was Visiting Associate Professor of Statistics at the Department of Statistics, Harvard University (USA), where she taught, jointly with prof. Donald Rubin, a graduate course on Causal Inference, and collaborated at various research projects in the same field. She is Director of Graduate Studies for the PhD in Applied Statistics at the Department of Statistics, University of Florence. Her research interests include: methods for causal inference, program evaluation, estimation techniques, simulation methods, missing data methods, models and methods for transition data and hierarchical data. She collaborated at the reasearch project financed by the CNVSU on the evaluation of University Student Aid Program. She participated at the research project, financed by the Italian Ministero del Lavoro e Politiche Sociali on "Temporary Work Agencies as a tool to access stable jobs". She participated at the project Understanding Children's Work (ILO, UNICEF, WB), in particular for the analysis of the determinants and the effects of child labour in Guatemala e in Ghana. She was member of the research group, Department of Statistics-Regione Toscana, for monitoring and evaluating Vocational Job Training programs.

The RU of Piemonte Orientale is directed by Daniele Bondonio, Ph.D. at the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University.
Research Grants and Fellowships
- National Science Foundation, Washington D.C., Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant SBR-9906894.
-U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington D.C., Doctoral Dissertation Research Award.
-CNR, Fellowship.
-ICER (International Center for Economic Research), Fellowship.
-Compagnia di Sanpaolo, "Luciano Jona" Scholarship.
Visiting professor at the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University (2001 e 2003). His main research interest is the evaluation of the impact of business incentives, particularly in declining areas.

The RU in Salerno is directed by Sergio Destafanis, Ph. D. at Cambridge, UK, in 1992, and is Full Professor of Economics at the University of Salerno since 2004. He has been awarded the Tarantelli prize for the best paper given at the 1995 meeting of the Italian Association of Labour Economics (AIEL). Since 1997 he is in Executive Board of AIEL. In 1998 and 1999 he has been co-ordinator (with Marco Musella) of the research on "Nonprofit sector and unemployment", funded by Fondazione Italiana per il Volontariato. In 1999 and 2004 he was visiting professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. In 1999 his work “Esportazioni, vincolo di offerta e sviluppo locale, un'analisi su dati regionali” (written with Salvatore D'Acunto and Marco Musella) won the Banco di Napoli prize for the best innovative research on the Mezzogiorno economy. In 2001 he was consultant to the Commissione per la Garanzia dell'Informazione Statistica within a research project on "Engagements related to EU guidelines concerning labour market statistics". Since 2003 he is member of the joint CELPE (Salerno) - Isfol (Rome) research group on the Mezzogiorno labour market. His research interests include the macroeconomic analysis of the labour market, growth and development in dualistic economies and the quantitative analysis of productive processes. Currently he is finishing a monograph on the macroeconomic relevance of wage flexibility. Other recent work focuses on the efficiency analysis of non-conventional producers (municipalities, non-profit organisations) and on the determination of total factor productivity across countries and regions.

Bruno Contini, directing the RU in Turin, Professor of Econometrics, Visiting Professor - University of California - Berkeley (USA); Tel-Aviv University, Economics Department; Visiting Scholar, London School of Economics;
Honors and Awards:
- Premio Saint Vincent Economia, 1993, for best book in economics: Imprese, occupazione e retribuzioni al microscopio, (with R. Revelli), Il Mulino, 1992
- Premio E.Tarantelli for Scientific Research in Labour Economics, First Edition 1997.
- Accademia delle Scienze di Torino - Member since 2002
He has worked since the ’80s on the development and scientific utilisation of large longitudinal panels originating from administrative sources. The applications have ranged on numerous issues related to the dynamics of Italian labour market. He and the late R.Revelli developed the design and prototype of the INPS (the Italian Social Security institute) Observatory on Firms, Employment and Wages. He has co-authored (with R.Revelli) the first studies on industrial demography in Italy and many theoretical and empirical papers on labour market flows. See chiefly Contini and Revelli (1992) and Contini (2002). During the three just mentioned programs co-financed by MIUR, Contini has directed the development of a linked employer-employee longitudinal data-set based on SS data.

Coming to the four broad themes the project focuses on, here we give a brief overview of the literature on impact evaluation. Only a short list of references relevant for the case studies is given here (see the projects of the five RUs for more details).



Info: anna.giraldo@unipd.it