• C52;
  • I21;
  • I28

This article looks at the strengths and weaknesses of using administrative data for economic policy evaluation. It does this by looking at how school administrative data have been used to assess school effectiveness and the impact of month of birth on educational outcomes with varying degrees of success. It concludes that if there is some natural experiment in the way that education is delivered or an education initiative is introduced, then schools’ administrative data offer the opportunity of answering questions of extreme policy interest in a robust way – even without rich background information on the students and their families.