Corresponding author: Charles F. Manski, Department of Economics and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, 2001 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Policy Analysis with Incredible Certitude*
Article first published online: 21 JUL 2011
© 2011 The Author(s). The Economic Journal © 2011 Royal Economic Society
The Economic Journal
Volume 121, Issue 554, pages F261–F289, August 2011
How to Cite
Manski, C. F. (2011), Policy Analysis with Incredible Certitude. The Economic Journal, 121: F261–F289. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2011.02457.x
This article was presented in February 2011 as a Leverhulme Lecture at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, in the framework of my Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at University College London. The research was supported in part by National Science Foundation grant SES-0911181. I am grateful for comments from Teresa Delgado, Joel Horowitz, Richard Lempert, Francesca Molinari, John Mullahy, Daniel Nagin, James Poterba and two referees. I have also benefited from the opportunity to present parts of this work in seminars at NYU, the Congressional Budget Office and the University of Essex.
- Issue published online: 21 JUL 2011
- Article first published online: 21 JUL 2011
Analyses of public policy regularly express certitude about the consequences of alternative policy choices. Yet policy predictions often are fragile, with conclusions resting on critical unsupported assumptions or leaps of logic. Then the certitude of policy analysis is not credible. I develop a typology of incredible analytical practices and give illustrative cases. I call these practices conventional certitude, duelling certitudes, conflating science and advocacy, wishful extrapolation, illogical certitude and media overreach.