Want Better Government? Get Better Data.

In this age of big data, it might surprise you that most federal government programs still rely mainly on household surveys. We track the success of welfare, unemployment and many other safety net programs by simply asking people about their experiences, one by one. But the quality of data from those surveys is rapidly declining, making it difficult to get a clear picture of what programs are really working. So what do we do?

Get better data. That’s the opinion of Bruce Meyer, the McCormick Foundation Professor at Chicago Harris. Prof. Meyer has been working with members of Congress to make existing data more available in the places it’s most valuable. As we’ll hear, it could usher in a new age of hard evidence-based policycraft.

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