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About Policy Impacts

Over the past 50 years, researchers have made great strides in analyzing public policy. With better data and improved research methods, we know more than ever about the impacts of government spending.

But despite these advances, it remains surprisingly challenging to answer basic questions about which policies have been most effective.

The difficulty arises because methods for evaluating policy effectiveness are not standardized. This makes it challenging, if not impossible, to compare and contrast across different policies.

Within the social sciences, methods of analysis vary widely from topic to topic.

College scholarships are most often judged based on their cost per enrolled student, whereas pre-school spending is analyzed using cost-benefit analysis. Tax policy changes are often evaluated using technical metrics such as the marginal excess burden.

These varying approaches make it difficult to conduct apples-to-apples comparisons across policies. Decision-makers are unable to fully utilize the powerful research currently available to inform policymaking and public investments.

With that problem in mind, we formed Policy Impacts.

Policy Impacts seeks to promote a unified approach for policy evaluation. We seek to promote the Marginal Value of Public Funds, a standardized metric for policy evaluation. We have created the Policy Impacts library, a collaborative effort to track the returns to a wide range of government policies.

Our Team

  • Nathaniel Hendren


    Nathaniel Hendren is a Professor of Economics at MIT and Co-Director of Policy Impacts.

  • Ben Sprung-Keyser


    Ben Sprung-Keyser is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Economics at Harvard University (Opportunity Insights) and Co-Director of Policy Impacts.

  • Ellen Stuart

    Research Affiliate

    Ellen Stuart is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Sydney

  • Jack Kelly

    Pre-Doctoral Fellow

    Jack is a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Policy Impacts

  • Sarah Aaronson

    Pre-Doctoral Fellow

    Sarah is a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Policy Impacts

  • Sethu Odayappan

    Pre-Doctoral Fellow

    Sethu is a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Policy Impacts

  • Aidan Creeron

    Pre-Doctoral Fellow

    Aidan is a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Policy Impacts

  • Jamie Emery

    Pre-Doctoral Fellow (Alumni)

    Jamie Emery was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Policy Impacts from 2021-2023

  • Charlie Hutchinson

    Pre-Doctoral Fellow (Alumni)

    Charlie Hutchinson was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Policy Impacts from 2022-2023

  • Julia Regier

    Program Manager

    Julia Regier is a Program Manager at Policy Impacts

Get in Touch


Data / technical assistance:
[email protected]

Media and Interview Requests:
Nathan Hendren —
[email protected]

If you would like to contact one of our researchers:
[email protected]


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
50 Memorial Drive
MA 02142

Are you a Researcher or Academic?

Building the Policy Impacts Library is a collaborative effort.
We are always adding new research to the library and encourage researchers to submit their work.

If you want to learn more about how the MVPF might apply to your work, please get in touch.