Evaluation of Development Programs: Using Regressions to Assess the Impact of Complex Interventions

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 12-081/2

27 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2012

See all articles by Chris Elbers

Chris Elbers

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics; Tinbergen Institute

Jan Willem Gunning

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics; Tinbergen Institute; Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: July 20, 2012

Abstract

There is a growing interest in extending project evaluation methods to the evaluation of programs: complex interventions involving multiple activities. In general a program evaluation cannot be based on separate evaluations of its components since interactions between the activities are likely to be important. We propose a measure of program impact, the total program effect (TPE), which is an extension of the average treatment effect on the treated (ATET). Regression techniques can be applied to observational data from a representative sample to estimate the TPE for complex interventions in the presence of selection effects and treatment heterogeneity. As an example we present an estimate of the TPE for a rural water supply and sanitation program in Mozambique. Estimating the TPE from randomized controlled trials would appear to be an alternative; however, the scope for using RCTs in this context is limited.

Keywords: program evaluation, randomized controlled trials, policy evaluation, treatment heterogeneity, budget support, sector-wide programs, aid effectiveness

JEL Classification: C21, C33, O22

Suggested Citation

Elbers, Chris and Gunning, Jan Willem, Evaluation of Development Programs: Using Regressions to Assess the Impact of Complex Interventions (July 20, 2012). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 12-081/2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2133964 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2133964

Chris Elbers (Contact Author)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Gustav Mahlerplein 117
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Jan Willem Gunning

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands
+ 310 20 444 6141 (Phone)
+ 310 20 444 6004 (Fax)

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

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Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

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