Public Policy in an Uncertain World Analysis and Decisions

ISBN-10: 0674066898

ISBN-13: 9780674066892

Edition: 2013

Authors: Charles F. Manski

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Public policy advocates routinely assert that “research has shown” a particular policy to be desirable. But how reliable is the analysis in the research they invoke? And how does that analysis affect the way policy is made, on issues ranging from vaccination to minimum wage to FDA drug approval? Charles Manski argues here that current policy is based on untrustworthy analysis. By failing to account for uncertainty in an unpredictable world, policy analysis misleads policy makers with expressions of certitude. Public Policy in an Uncertain World critiques the status quo and offers an innovation to improve how policy research is conducted and how policy makers use research.Consumers of policy analysis, whether civil servants, journalists, or concerned citizens, need to understand research methodology well enough to properly assess reported findings. In the current model, policy researchers base their predictions on strong assumptions. But as Manski demonstrates, strong assumptions lead to less credible predictions than weaker ones. His alternative approach takes account of uncertainty and thereby moves policy analysis away from incredible certitude and toward honest portrayal of partial knowledge. Manski describes analysis of research on such topics as the effect of the death penalty on homicide, of unemployment insurance on job-seeking, and of preschooling on high school graduation. And he uses other real-world scenarios to illustrate the course he recommends, in which policy makers form reasonable decisions based on partial knowledge of outcomes, and journalists evaluate research claims more closely, with a skeptical eye toward expressions of certitude.
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Book details

Copyright year: 2013
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 2/18/2013
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 162
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.012
Language: English

Rumsfeld and the Limits to Knowledge
Using Policy Analysis to Inform Decisions
Organization of the Book
Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis with Incredible Certitude
The Logic and Credibility of Policy Analysis
Incentives for Certitude
Support for Certitude in Philosophy of Science
Conventional Certitudes
CBO Scoring of Pending Legislation
Scoring the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010; Credible Interval Scoring; Can Congress Cope with Uncertainty?
British Norms
Dueling Certitudes
The RAND and IDA Reports on Illegal Drug Policy
The National Research Council Assessment
Conflating Science and Advocacy
Friedman and Educational Vouchers
Wishful Extrapolation
Selective Incapacitation
Extrapolation from Randomized Experiments: The FDA Drug Approval Process
The Study Population and the Population of Interest
The Experimental Treatments and the Treatments of Interest
The Outcomes Measured in Experiments and the Outcomes of Interest
The FDA and Conventional Certitude
Campbell and the Primacy of Internal Validity
Illogical Certitude
What Does "More Important" Mean?
Heritability and Social Policy
Gene Measurement
Media Overreach
"The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers" Peer Review and Credible Reporting
Predicting Policy Outcomes
Deterrence and the Death Penalty
Estimates Using Data on Homicide Rates across States and Years
Analysis of Treatment Response
Statistical Inference and Identification
Predicting Outcomes under Policies That Mandate a Treatment
Sentencing and Recidivism
Our Analysis
Analysis Assuming Individualistic Treatment Response
Numerical Findings
Choosing a Policy
Identical Treatment Units
Before-and-After Studies
Difference-in-Differences Studies
Employment in Fast-Food Restaurants and the Minimum Wage
Identical Treatment Groups
Experiments with Random Assignment of Treatments
The "Gold Standard"
Randomized Experiments in Practice
The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Experiment
Random Compliance
The Mixing Problem
Extrapolation from the Perry Preschool Project
Social Interactions
Local and Global Interactions
Credible Analysis of Experimental Data
Random Treatment Choice in Observational Studies
Rational Treatment Choice and Selection Bias
Outcome Optimization with Perfect Foresight
Regression Discontinuity Analysis
Modeling Rational Treatment Choice
Outcome Optimization as a Model of Sentencing Distributional Assumptions
Predicting Behavior
Income Taxation and Labor Supply
The Theory of Labor Supply
Empirical Analysis
Basic Revealed-Preference Analysis
Illustration: Labor Supply under Progressive and Proportional Taxes
Discrete Choice Analysis
Random Utility Model Representation of Behavior
Attribute Representation of Alternatives and Decision Makers
Analysis with Incomplete Attribute Data
College Choice in America
Predicting the Enrollment Effects of Student Aid Policy
Power and Price of the Analysis
Discrete Choice Analysis Today
Predicting Behavior under Uncertainty
How Do Youth Infer the Returns to Schooling?
How Do Potential Criminals Perceive Sanctions Regimes?
Measuring Expectations
Pill, Patch, or Shot?
Perspectives on Rational Choice
As-If Rationality
Bounded Rationality
Biases and Heuristics
Widespread Irrationality or Occasional Cognitive Illusions?
The Common Thread Is Certitude
Policy Decisions
Planning with Partial Knowledge
Treating X-Pox
Elements of Decision Theory
States of Nature
The Welfare Function
Welfare Functions in Studies of Optimal Income Taxation
The Mirrlees Study
Decision Criteria
Elimination of Dominated Actions
Weighting States and the Expected Welfare Criterion
Criteria for Decision Making under Ambiguity
Minimax Regret
Using Different Criteria to Treat X-Pox
Search Profiling with Partial Knowledge of Deterrence
Vaccination with Partial Knowledge of Effectiveness
Internal and External Effectiveness
The Planning Problem
Partial Knowledge of External Effectiveness
Choosing a Vaccination Rate
Rational and Reasonable Decision Making
The Savage Argument for Consistency
Axiomatic Rationality and Actualist Rationality
Axiomatic and Actualist Perspectives on Subjective Probability
Ellsberg on Ambiguity
The Quest for Rationality and the Search for Certitude
Diversified Treatment Choice
Diversification and Profiling
Allocating a Population to Two Treatments
The Welfare Function
A Status Quo Treatment and an Innovation
Expected Welfare
Minimax Regret
Choosing Sentences for Convicted Juvenile Offenders
Allocation of Wealth to a Safe and Risky Investment
Risk-Averse Planning
Diversification and Equal Treatment of Equals
Ex Ante and Ex Post Equal Treatment
Combining Consequentialism and Deontological Ethics
Adaptive Diversification
Adaptive Minimax Regret
Implementation in Centralized Health Care Systems
The AMR Criterion and the Practice of Randomized Clinical Trials
Fraction of the Population Receiving the Innovation
Group Subject to Randomization
Measurement of Outcomes
Diversification across Time or Space
Diversification by Cohort
Laboratories of Democracy
Adaptive Partial Drug Approval
The Present Approval Process
Binary versus Partial Approval
Adaptive Partial Licensing
Collective Decision Processes
Majority-Rule Voting with Single-Peaked Preferences
The Credibility of Single-Peaked Preferences
Strategic Interactions
Learning and Heterogeneity of Policy Preferences
Bilateral Negotiations
Pareto Optimal Allocations
Incentive-Compatible Processes
Teacher Evaluation in New York City
Social Learning from Private Experiences
Laissez-Faire Learning and Adaptive Diversification
Policy Analysis and Decisions
Institutional Separation of Analysis and Decisions
Doing Better
Derivations for Criteria to Treat X-Pox
The Minimax-Regret Allocation to a Status Quo Treatment and an Innovation
Treatment Choice with Partial Knowledge of Response to Both Treatments
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