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Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Tropics: Are Developing Countries Different?

26 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017  

Stephen Howes

Australian National University (ANU) - Development Policy Centre; Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

Ashlee Betteridge

Australian National University (ANU) - Development Policy Centre

Lawrence Sause

University of Papua New Guinea - Division of Economics, School of Business and Public Policy

Lhawang Ugyel

Australian National University (ANU)

Date Written: July 26, 2017

Abstract

Evidence-based policy making has been advocated as much, if not more, for developing as developed countries. However, very little attention has been given to the conditions or prerequisites for evidence-based policy making, and whether these are in general more or less likely to hold in developing countries. We argue that an environment conducive to evidence-based policy making is one in which there are strong incentives for good policies to be adopted, capable institutions to implement them, a wide range of domains within which good policy can be adopted, and a ready supply of well-developed policy proposals. Based on the development literature, our own experience, and the comparison of two countries, Australia and Papua New Guinea, we conclude that these conditions are all more likely to exist in developed than developing countries. Developing countries on the other hand have the advantage of foreign aid. Much foreign aid is dedicated to the purpose of facilitating evidence-based policy making. But we argue that at best this is a partial compensation for the other problems faced by developing countries in striving to base their policies more firmly on sound evidence. While this paper is not a counsel for despair, it is a call for realism. Strengthening institutions or the structure of the economy are long-term endeavours. But the dearth of funding for research and teaching is a constraint that can more readily be lifted, especially with support from donors.

Keywords: public policy, policy transfer, international development, evidence-based policy, policymaking, public administration, Australia, Papua New Guinea, institutions, governance, informal sector, taxation, research, capacity building, foreign aid, universities, economic policy

JEL Classification: O1, O2

Suggested Citation

Howes, Stephen and Betteridge, Ashlee and Sause, Lawrence and Ugyel, Lhawang, Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Tropics: Are Developing Countries Different? (July 26, 2017). Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 59. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3009196

Stephen Howes (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Development Policy Centre ( email )

7 Liversidge Street (Bld 70)
Lennox Crossing
Canberra, 0200
Australia

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
J.G. Crawford Building, #132, Lennox Crossing
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Ashlee Betteridge

Australian National University (ANU) - Development Policy Centre ( email )

7 Liversidge Street (Bld 70)
Lennox Crossing
Canberra, 0200
Australia

Lawrence Sause

University of Papua New Guinea - Division of Economics, School of Business and Public Policy ( email )

P.O. Box 320, University Post Office
National Capital District
Papua
Guinea

Lhawang Ugyel

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

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