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Christopher Deeming

Not only is there the use of evidence, but also its possible misuse, which is the focus of Chapter 9 by Deeming. This may occur when policy-makers only use the evidence that is in line with their own ideas and perceptions as to how society should develop. Thus, there is a risk that evidence and evaluation that point in the opposite direction will not be used by policy-makers. Another, classical, issue is whether policy-makers have the right to, given their preferences, take the decisions they prefer.

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Anthony E. Boardman and Aidan R. Vining

One specific focus, central to Chapter 5 by Boardman and Vining, is on how to make an economic evaluation of social policy. The chapter provides an overview of the methods used to evaluate social policies, which focus on the criterion of allocative efficiency, including both comprehensive methods (cost–benefit analysis) and non-comprehensive economic evaluation methods. It also discusses some of the important issues associated with the economic evaluation of social policies, including some of the pitfalls.

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Trude Sundberg

Naturally, there is a need for critical assessment of the use of systematic reviews. This is the focus of Chapter 6 by Sundberg. The chapter contains an overview of different types of reviews, but also strengths and weaknesses of the different methodologies, and puts forward realist synthesis as a possible approach when trying to evaluate social policy interventions.

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Massimo Costa

Public and private investments are often intended to give a return – one way or another. Due to this, money spent on one project cannot be spent on another. The social return on investment (SROI) perspective, including general elements of cost–benefit analysis is presented by Costa in Chapter 4. The chapter highlights that social issues, although difficult to measure, should also be included in an analysis of social policy, and major appraisal tools for public projects are discussed.

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Michael J. Roy, Neil McHugh and Stephen Sinclair

Social impact bonds are the focus of Chapter 14 by Roy, McHugh and Sinclair. They argue that there is a lack of engagement with ethical issues in the use of these bonds, including the possible neglect of non-economic issues in policy-making. Therefore, the use of social impact bonds might have negative implications for the implementation of social policy.

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Robert Boruch, Rui Yang, Jordan M. Hyatt and Herb Turner III

The use of RCTs in social policy fields is the focus of Chapter 2 by Boruch et al. The chapter includes examples of how to use them and how they have been used in social policy fields, including crime and education. The chapter also discusses the strong and weak points of using RCTs. A central methodological problem is how to ensure that participating individuals are randomly chosen when making the intervention and, further, that the comparison group is suitable

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Christoph E. Mueller and Hansjoerg Gaus

In Chapter 3, by Mueller and Gaus, the focus is on the important issues of whether the implementation of social policy interventions has the intended consequences, and/or if there are unintended outcomes. This is mainly due to the difficulties related to estimating unbiased causal intervention effects, and although RCTs are thought to serve this purpose, RCTs are not always feasible in evaluation practice, and, further, there may be a conflict between internal and external validity.

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Edited by Bent Greve

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M. Azhar Hussain

In Chapter 24 by Hussain different ways to measure poverty are discussed, but also, and even more important, how evaluation of poverty interventions can be used as a way of ensuring the best and most efficient approach when it comes to trying to reduce poverty. Further, concrete examples of interventions with the aim of reducing poverty are presented.

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Jon Warren and Jonathan Wistow

Chapter 11 by Warren and Wistow on policy, evidence and difference within welfare regimes focuses on the UK through the example of benefits for those unable to work due to disability and/or ill health. Despite being set within one regime, there are strong regional and local differences in this particular area of welfare state policy and practice. Finally, they present a cross-national comparison of different countries with different regimes.