Are We Getting What We Paid For? The Need for Randomized Environmental Policy Experiments in Georgia

Jun 01, 2005 | by
  • Description

In the field of environmental policy, the decision to choose one policy over another should be evidence-based. Randomized policy experiments are important tools for generating evidence on the effectiveness of policies. They are an important component of policy design in fields such as poverty assistance, criminal rehabilitation, public education, and public health. In contrast, the use of randomized experiments in the field of environmental policy is nonexistent. In this short paper, I argue that randomized experiments are needed to improve environmental policy in Georgia. They can take place in the context of planned pilot initiatives and thus require little additional money to implement. Because they can be incorporated into the implementation of a field initiative, policy experiments also mitigate concerns that research and program implementation are mutually exclusive. However, the difference between what one can learn from a pilot initiative that uses a randomized design and from one that does not is enormous. We illustrate how one can use a randomized policy experiment in the context of an existing water conservation initiative in Georgia. Working Paper Number 2005-0022