How Research and Other Factors Influence Decision-making on Social Policy in the United States
An important goal of social science is to produce and accumulate knowledge that can improve public policy. This is a worthy goal because the public pays much of the bill for social science research in hopes that research will turn out to be an investment that leads to better public policy, especially more effective intervention programs that boost the nation’s well-being. Ron Haskins will discuss the ways in which social science knowledge can and does influence public decisions. He will include concrete examples of instances in which the work of social scientists has actually influenced social policy in the U.S. He will also examine the prospects that the current effort by the Obama administration to increase the use of rigorous research to improve federal social programs will bear fruit and will thereby increase the prestige and importance of social science research in the formulation of public policy. Haskins will draw on his experience in helping decision makers formulate some of America’s most important social policies to provide colorful examples of social science research in action.
Ron Haskins is a former White House and congressional advisor on welfare issues. He co-directs the Brookings Center on Children and Families, Washington. An expert on preschool, foster care, and poverty, he was instrumental in the 1996 overhaul of national welfare policy.