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Empirical Research for Public Policy: With Examples from Family Law and Advice on Securing Funding

24 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2007 Last revised: 8 Feb 2008

Richard Lempert

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: June 29, 2007

Abstract

This paper discusses the use of empirical research for public policy and suggests a number of cautions that should be exercised in generalizing from empirical studies to public policy with a focus on the role of theory and both internal and external validity. It is build around three studies in the area of family law but draws on studies in other areas as well. It argues that even lawyers relatively unfamiliar with the methods of empirical research can be reasonably sophisticated consumers if they just apply good logic and common sense. It also cautions against demanding too much of empirical research and, in particular, ignoring or discarding empirical studies because flaws that make them less than perfect for policy purposes can be identified.

Keywords: internal validity, external validity, empirical reserach and public policy

Suggested Citation

Lempert, Richard, Empirical Research for Public Policy: With Examples from Family Law and Advice on Securing Funding (June 29, 2007). U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 95. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1000700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1000700

Richard Lempert (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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