Event Recording

The next frontier in evidence-based policymaking: The science of scaling

June 17, 2021

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In recent years, citizens and lawmakers have become increasingly enthusiastic about the adoption of evidence-based programs and policies. There’s a record of countless interventions that positively impact peoples’ lives. And yet, when expanded, these efforts have often failed to deliver the anticipated dramatic societal impacts. This can lead to a waste of resources, a missed opportunity to improve lives, and a diminution in the public’s trust in the role of science in the policymaking process.

But does it mean that we can only expect to achieve positive impact on a small scale? That evidence-based policies are not worth pursuing? Not at all. Instead, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers must acknowledge what is missing: a proper understanding of how, why, and when promising results can be delivered at scale.

On June 17, Governance Studies at Brookings and the University of Chicago’s TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health and Griffin Applied Economics Incubator cohosted a discussion among researchers, practitioners, and government innovation experts to help unpack scalability in policymaking. Panelists discussed a timely new book that argues the “science of scaling” represents the next frontier in evidence-based policymaking—and illustrated ways that those who research, fund, adopt, or implement evidence-based programs and policies can address this critical issue.