New catalog of administrative data sets for rigorous evaluations of social programs

February 20, 2017, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
J-PAL North America aims to make rigorous evaluation of key questions in social policy easier for researchers with a new catalog. Credit: Shutterstock

Hospitals, governments, school systems, and many other institutions gather a wealth of data on individuals for operational purposes. MIT-based J-PAL North America recently launched a catalog of administrative datasets to provide researchers with clear information on data access and content, including costs and indicators. Together with J-PAL North America's guide to using administrative data for randomized evaluations, this public catalog will support researchers in carrying out high-quality evaluations.

When equipped with safeguards for privacy, access to administrative data has the potential to reduce research costs, create opportunities for long-term follow-up on intervention impacts, and improve the accuracy of research. As J-PAL North America Executive Director Quentin Palfrey notes in a recent op-ed, access to administrative data can be transformational for researchers looking to conduct policy-relevant studies on key challenges in reducing poverty.

The catalog, which currently features 16 entries, includes datasets related to consumption, criminal justice, education, employment, and health care. This data has been collected at the national, state, and local level. The catalog will continue to grow as new datasets are added.

For those interested in having their organization's dataset featured, or to provide feedback and requests for new entries, contact admindata@povertyactionlab.org.

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