Policy Indicators: Links Between Social Science and Public Debate

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UNC Press Books, 1985 - Social Science - 414 pages
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Duncan MacRae analyzes the ways in which experts can aid a political community in choosing public statistics for citizens to use in making policy judgments. In contrast to the study of social indicators, which has emphasized descriptions and models of social change, he stresses that the relevant measures should be selected in view of their potential applications.



The usefulness of a public statistical series depends on the goals it represents and on our knowledge of how to act collectively to achieve those ends. The measures chosen, MacRae notes, can include gauges of social objectives, such as health and education improvements or crime reduction, and administrative inputs that promote them. He recommends, however, that the measures should be organized around general ends such as net economic benefit, subjective well-being, and equity. Knowledge about how to further collective aims, MacRae contends, requires strenthening of "technical communities" of researchers who study the means to the ends that policy indicators measure.



Policy Indicators provides a critical review of the field of social indicators, stressing the uses of statistics in policy debate. For applied social scientists and policy analysts, it presents broad proposals for the roles of their fields in a democracy.



Originally published in 1985.



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Contents

Values in Public Statistical Systems
14
Four Types of Action Aided by Public Statistics
15
Indicator Statistics Models and the Cycle of Policy Choice
20
Terminology
29
Value Analysis of Social Indicator Concepts
36
Choosing Contributory Policy Indicators
46
Citizens Values and the Experts Roles
53
Politics and the Reconciliation of Values
55
Subjective WellBeing
187
Happiness and Satisfaction
189
Dimensional Structures of Subjective Value Concepts
192
Combining Time and Subjective WellBeing7
195
Individual Circumstances
198
Personality and Domain Satisfactions
203
Standards of Comparison Adaptation and Change
207
Policy Inferences
212

Citizens Justifications and Their Reconciliation
59
Tradeoffs and Indicators
65
Values and Roles
70
The Proposal of Consensual EndValue Indicators
75
Part II Causal Models for Policy
79
Successful Models and Their Limits
81
Policy Models
82
The Limitations of Policy Models with Exact Components
87
Models Based on Simpler Aspects of Human Behavior
92
Economic Models
95
The Fairweather Lodge
100
Conditions for Improving Models by Successive Trials
103
Types of Incrementalism
107
Nonexperimental Social Policy Research
113
The Specificity of Practical Social Research
115
Three Coleman Reports
118
An Inclusive Framework for Educational Policy Models
131
Models for Crime Reduction
136
Comparison of Model Building for Education and Crime Policies
144
Technical Communities and Multiple Methods
147
Technical Community Versus Client Support
153
Part III General Indicator Concepts in Policy Choice and Research
157
Net Economic Benefit
159
Economic Statistics as Examples for Imitation
160
The Optimization of Economic Value
162
Estimating Net Economic Benefit and the National Product
170
Estimating Nonmarket Benefits and Costs
175
Objective or Subjective?
179
Macroeconomic Value Concepts and WellBeing
182
Summary
186
Equity Aggregation and Compensation
219
Univariate Procedures
223
Intrafamily and Intrapersonal Aggregation
231
Discounting
235
Value Causation and Blame
240
Indicators of Social Integration
250
Social Integration
252
Family and Household Integration
263
Organizational Integration
270
The Integration of Communities and Political Systems
277
Conclusion
286
Part IV The Implementation of Policy Indicators
291
The Political Context System Needs Biases and Users
293
Differences among Political Systems
295
Policy Indicators in Local Government
299
Measurement and the Reactions of Information Producers
304
Political Pressures and the Use and Choice of Indicators
314
Dissemination and Mediating Roles
320
Political Conditions and Indicator Development
323
Technical Communities Indicators and Models
326
Scientific and Technical Communities
327
The Community for Public Statistics
333
Communities Dealing with Policy Models
338
Technical Communities and Values
346
The Choice of Policy Indicators
352
Recommendations
357
References
361
Index
407
Copyright

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Page 4 - This volume is devoted to the topic of social indicators— statistics, statistical series, and all other forms of evidence— that enable us to assess where we stand and are going with respect to our values and goals, and to evaluate specific programs and determine their impact.
Page 5 - ... the bare enumeration of the inhabitants; it would enable them to adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community. In order to know the various interests of the United States, it was necessary that the description of the several classes into which the community is divided should be accurately known.
Page 4 - For many of the important topics on which social critics blithely pass judgment, and on which policies are made, there are no yardsticks by which to know if things are getting better or worse.

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