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Event Recording

Recent years have seen a large increase in the availability of rigorous impact evaluations that could inform policy decisions. However, it is not enough for evidence to exist: It must also be seen as relevant and correctly interpreted. In this talk, I’ll share new research (with Aidan Coville and Sampada KC) drawing on experiments conducted with policymakers, practitioners, and researchers at World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank workshops. We explored how each of these three groups respond to and weigh evidence when it is presented to them, and which types of evidence policymakers tend to weigh more heavily. We find greater weight placed on good news than bad, insensitivity to confidence intervals, and that policymakers were extremely sensitive to context and whether the evidence or recommendation was produced locally. After presenting results, I will discuss what researchers can do to make it more likely that their findings are used.

Talk by:
Eva Vivalt, Assistant Professor of Economics
University of Toronto
Followed by an informal conversation with:
Anna Harvey, SSRC President

Eva Vivalt

Eva Vivalt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Toronto. She specializes in investigating stumbling blocks to generate evidence-based policy decisions, including both methodological issues as well as how evidence is interpreted and used. Professor Vivalt has published in Science, the Journal of the European Economics Association and the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, among other outlets. She is a co-founder of the Social Science Prediction Platform — which coordinates the collection of forecasts of research results in the social sciences, and founder of AidGrade, a research institute that generates and synthesizes evidence in international development. Professor Vivalt is also a principal investigator on Y Combinator Research’s basic income renewed computer technology RCT and has other interests in labor economics, development and global priorities research.

About the Lecture Series

For more than 100 years, the Social Science Research Council has mobilized policy-relevant social and behavioral science aimed at finding actionable solutions to pressing societal challenges. The Council’s College and University Fund for the Social Sciences is a network of nearly 50 research institutions that support our work to foster innovative and solutions-oriented social and behavioral science. In this virtual lecture series, faculty from College and University Fund member institutions share their work to understand how to pursue research that solves problems.

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