Quantitative Policy Analysis and Modelling (QPAM) concerns itself with the goals that we set ourselves for society and how government can obtain these goals.
The “Grüne Wirtschaft” initiative currently up for a referendum in Switzerland can be said to have the goal of a sustainable economy by 2050. If accepted it mandates to assess the process every four years. Based on the assessment it is authorized to raise taxes, put subsidies in place, support research and impose regulation to achieve the goal. It is a policy with a policy target and a set of policy instruments (the mandate to review and the authority to enact other instruments). To answer the question, whether it is a good policy it needs to be assess whether it takes Switzerland in a desired direction and whether it is an effective mean to get there. Both the desired direction and the effectiveness of a policy can be highly contested as seen in the current public debate in Switzerland. The particular policy proposed is fairly vague except for the mandate to review (roughly 6 months of assessment every 4 years). The vagueness of the means leaves it open for different groups to interpret them and hence makes its meaning contested.
The term is confusing inasmuch it has two major meanings attached. This class will focus on the analysis of the effect of policies put in place. For the “Grüne Wirtschaft” initiative it would be assessing the means (raise taxes, put subsidies in place, support research and impose regulation) by their effectiveness. This approach involves a lot of economics and modelling and will drive the majority of the classes.
In Political Science Departments there is a second meaning to it that focuses on the analysis of the political factors that lead to a policy. It analyses the different coalitions that drive the creation of a policy. Our example would probably focus on how the Green Party drove the policy and how other polities react to it. This topic would be governed in Environmental Governance classes and will not be developed further here.
If the referendum was to pass the Swiss Environmental Office would be tasked with implementing it and developing and analysing the means that will be the focus of this course.
Policy analysis is also used by NGO’s such as WWF to identify policies that they want to advocate for.
Eugene Bardach’s book “A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis”(Bardach, 2012)is the main resource for the course and I reviewed it here.