The Founding Objective of CREPE
Grave social and economic problems have piled up in Japan: low fertility and population aging, financial deficit, growth of inequality, huge natural disasters, changes in the industrial composition - just to name a few. But, what kind of policies are effective for dealing with them? What kind of data are necessary for understanding the present situation? What kind of mechanisms are needed to correctly assess systems and policies and contribute to a better future?
All these questions, which form the backbone of the solutions for the above problems, should be examined in relation to the basic concepts of economics, such as the interdependence of human, financial, material and informational resources, efficacy and fairness, and governance. In tight financial conditions, what kind of support should be given for child rearing and nursing care so as to be able to both secure sufficient labor force and avoid the deepening of the fertility decline; how can the labor force participation of the elderly be secured; how can equality in educational opportunities be achieved, and a rise in inequality prevented; how can a system that allows a broad spectrum of citizens to, in cooperation with their family members, enjoy high-quality health and nursing care be maintained, while holding down the growth of medical and nursing costs; how can the living environment in the countryside, where population aging is advancing, be improved - all of these tasks for institutional reforms crucial for Japan’s future need to be grounded in policy formulation based on empirical results (Evidence Based Policy Making or EBPM), and the solutions for them should be sought by rallying the wisdom of economics and in collaboration with other academic fields.
To effectively conduct policy evaluation, which constitutes the basis of the EBPM, the subjects engaged in policy evaluation must both possess a high degree of technical skills and be independent from the institution that is implementing the policies.
If one of these two requirements is not fulfilled, the empirical results will not be reliable. As an organization that can fulfill both of the conditions, the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Economics is beginning research concerning evidence based policy making, as well as the practice and practice-based training by establishing the Center for Research and Education in Program Evaluation in collaboration with other departments and offices.
The policies that our center will be analyzing are not just of the quantitative type, such as the expected changes in value added tax or the proposed abolition of university tuition fees, but are broad in scope and encompass the implementation of new systems, such as tax system reforms or the introduction of the auction system. Also, we shall not confine ourselves to the conventional method of policy evaluation whereby a certain policy is evaluated after the fact by looking at whether the policy goals have been accomplished, but will also analyze the effects that each policy has on broader social and economic phenomena originally not included in the policy goals. At the same time, while focusing on the goals that specific policies need to achieve, we will carefully and broadly, theoretically and empirically, examine various possible policy measures, and accumulate knowledge on which policies are, under which conditions, effective for achieving certain policy goals. Thus, our center aspires for comprehensive program evaluation that is not confined to policy evaluation in the narrow sense of the word.
To achieve such an objective we shall work on improving and preparing data together with the central and local governments and private companies. Also, while making good use of the human resources from the Graduate School of Economics and collaborating departments, we shall demonstrate through concrete examples that effective policy evaluation based on high-quality empirical and theoretical analysis can be done. We also aim to train personnel with high skills for conducting empirical and theoretical analyses, and help evidence-based policy take root in Japanese society. Simultaneously, we shall engage in arranging and managing the data necessary for conducting effective policy evaluation, as well as in the development of research methodology, and will thus also make international contributions towards raising the quality of policy evaluation.
In the next three years our center will be conducting research concerning policy evaluation and system design in accordance with the following topics:
- low fertility and population aging
- financial deficit
- labor environment
- disaster management
- information, communication and social infrastructure design
The Activities To Be Conducted by CREPE
- Conducting research on policy evaluation.
- Promoting joint research by inviting domestic and foreign researchers.
- Providing support for the application for and the administration of “Kakenhi” scientific research grants.
- Publishing the Center for Research and Education in Program Evaluation Discussion Papers.
- Identifying research topics through exchange of opinions with the institutions in charge of implementing policies, and giving feedback regarding our research results to the concerned parties.
- Gathering diverse data through collaboration with governmental agencies and local government bodies, and promoting research using those data.
- Managing the necessary confidential data while promoting the above research.
- Inviting top researchers in the fields that are the subject of the center’s interest to teach intensive courses and at the same time, giving our graduate students an opportunity to present their own research on such occasions, so that they can hear the opinion of the visiting scholar.
- Helping exceptional graduate students by granting them scholarships.
- Conducting practical training by having undergraduate and graduate students assist the researchers affiliated with our center with their research on policy evaluation.
- Offering opportunities for training through joint research with the employees of governmental agencies and local government bodies.
The Research to be conducted at CREPE
The research scheduled to be conducted at CREPE, as of October 2017, is as follows:
- Overall assessment of the influence of minimal wages on the labor market.
- Evaluation of policies regarding daycare centers.
- Evaluation of labor market policies pertaining to the elderly.
- Analysis of corporate behavior using matched employer-worker data