At A Glance
- The Power of Measuring Social Benefits is a $35 million policy research initiative that seeks to test the hypothesis that effective social policies that invest in individuals in need or at risk not only improve their life chances, but in many instances benefit the larger society and generate public returns long after assistance has ended.
- The project is exploring the possibility that strengthening the case for social policy making that is more firmly grounded in evidence of effectiveness and complementary benefits to recipients and society could challenge the widely-held belief that social spending is too often wasteful and ineffective.
- The Foundation’s grantmaking in this field aims to increase the number of social cost-benefit studies by developing work in at least ten timely and relevant areas of domestic policy, to strengthen methods, and to improve measurement of social benefits.
- The grantmaking also is designed to encourage federal and other government agencies to require evidence of effectiveness and mutual benefits to individuals and society in their budget decisions.
- In the initiative’s first 18 months, the Foundation has awarded 19 grants totaling nearly $12 million for the Power of Measuring Social Benefits, including 10 social cost-benefit studies that span the full range of MacArthur’s domestic program.
As fiscal constraints force the federal government to make difficult choices about which programs to fund, a new MacArthur initiative is using evidencebased research and cost-benefit analysis to strengthen the foundation for more effective social policymaking. The Power of Measuring Social Benefits is a $35 million policy research initiative that seeks to demonstrate how spending on certain programs—those that work with returning prisoners, treat depression, or counsel juvenile offenders, for example—can have long-term benefits for the affected individuals and society.
The Foundation believes that this grantmaking may provide a compelling body of evidence that might reduce the role of ideology and contribute to a new, more rigorous approach to social policymaking; accelerate the rate at which evidence-based practices are adopted across all levels of government; and, in the process, help restore public confidence in the government’s ability to help solve critical social problems that the country faces.
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