The importance of administrative data for learning what works in public policy: An interview with Raj Chetty, Professor, Harvard University – Episode #83

Why is administrative data, also known as big data, important for learning what works in public policy? And what steps can help the U.S. strengthen its data infrastructure for policy-relevant research? To gain insights, we’re joined by Raj Chetty for part 2 of our conversation. A Professor of Economics at Harvard University, his research combines empirical evidence (often using administrative data) and economic theory to help design more effective government policies.

As background, administrative data means the data collected by government agencies for program administration, regulatory or law enforcement purposes. Federal and state administrative data include detailed, useful information on labor market outcomes, health care, criminal justice, housing, and other important topics. Access to administrative data for research purposes – while carefully protecting privacy – can produce important insights about what works and how to improve public sector programs and policies. For further reading, a useful resource is the chapter Building Evidence with Administrative Data from the Analytical Perspectives section of the President’s 2016 Budget.

For part 1 of our conversation, on behavioral economics, click here.