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
Date Written: June 29, 2007
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
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