Seminar: Aggregating evidence to improve social and development programmes

Speaker: Howard White, Co-Chair of the Campbell Collaboration

Governments spend money on many programmes in many sectors. But how much of this spending actually achieves the purposes for which it is intended? In recent years there has been increasing use of rigorous studies to determine the impact of programmes. But can New Zealand policy makers learn from similar interventions in Germany or Ghana, or can policy makers in Namibia learn from programmes in Nepal? We should not draw global policy lessons from single studies. However, systematic reviews pull together all available high-quality evidence on which, where, how, for whom, and why programmes work.

This talk explained in simple terms the statistical basis for systematic reviews using real life examples from both the developed and developing world. Questions that were answered included: does anything work in combatting crime, is prison better than non-custodial sentences, are programmes to prevent deforestation in developing countries effective, why is it so hard to take programmes successfully to scale, and how to design an effective education programme.  


Download the presentation slides (PDF, 798 kB)


Howard White

Previously, Howard was the founding Executive Director of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie). Before starting 3ie, Howard led the impact evaluation program of the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group. Prior to that, he was an academic at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, and Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

Howard’s academic work has engaged the evaluation research-policy frontier, seeking to bring rigorous evidence to discussions of aid effectiveness, macroeconomic policy reform, and poverty reduction. He has worked extensively on development-related issues in countries across Africa and Asia, and made important contributions to program evaluation, policy research, and research synthesis.

Event date: 
14 October 2016
Event Type: 
Superu events
Last update: 18 Oct 2016