Policy Outcomes

Policy Outcomes

Policies adopted in different institutions aim at achieving certain objectives or goals. Governments usually have various policies they set to ensure that they meet their goals. For instance, the policies may aim at improving quality of life, improving economic performance and many others.  Policy outcomes are the results realized from the outputs. Outputs are the actions that the government performs.  In most cases in evaluation and performance monitoring   efforts are focused on policy outcomes as opposed to outputs; however measurement of outcomes is   much more difficult than measuring outputs.   This paper delineates on various aspects relating to policy making.

Question one

Variables are defined either as constitutively or operationally. Constitutive definition gives the meaning to variables by using similar or synonymous words. Constitutive definitions even though are essential; they do not provide an opportunity for an individual to monitor changes because they do not provide concrete rules and guidelines (Dunn, 2012). They also provide general links to the real world when it comes to policy making. On the other hand, operational definitions help to give meaning to a variable as it specifies the operations that require observing and measuring. Through operational definitions, policy actions and outcomes are experienced indirectly.

The three variables include energy consumption, equality of education opportunity and income distribution.   Energy consumption is constitutively defined as the total amount of energy that is consumed or used for specific duration of time.  The operational definition of energy consumption is, in US, consumption of energy by 2010 varied according to the consumption sector, with industrial sector leading in consumption at 30.8%, transportation at 28.1%, residential at 22.6% and commercial at 18.6% according or the energy consumption statistics.

Equality of education opportunity can be constitutively defined as the freedom to allow individuals to pursue their educations in the different schools of their choices without any form of discrimination or deterrent by any individual or a body. The variable can still be operationally defined as the total number of black community children denied the freedom to attend to the white schools in the early 1900 were approximate to be higher by 60% percentage compared to the present time according to the US statistics on education.

Likewise, income distribution is yet another variable that can be both constitutive and operationally defined. The constitutive definition of income distribution is the differences in the level of income among different members of the society. Income is perfectly equal if the members of the society earn same amount of money. Income distribution is perfectly unequal when only a few individuals earn highly than the rest of the members. The operational definition of income distribution is according to tax return data, 1% of the top household s in the US received 8.9% of all pre-tax income by 1976 but in 2008, the share had more than doubled to an estimate of 20%.

Question 2

Various policy problems face different institutions.  The problems can be determined   through certain indicators and indices to help enhance understanding whether the government is addressing the problems appropriately or not.  The three policy problems include school dropouts, work alienation and racial discrimination.

Work alienation and racial discrimination are policy problems that can be determined using social indicators. The number of workers quitting their work in their first year of employment and the rate of racial discrimination can be determined using social indicators.  The reason for using social indicators is that it has a number of advantages. They help to alert the users on the areas that have insufficient information. In this case, using social indicator will help to gather information on the aspects such as the level of satisfaction the worker gets from the job, the amount of income earned and such like factors helping in determining where the government has failed. In case of racial discrimination, the indicators will go a stride in determining information on the reasons why the rate of racial discrimination is not reducing. The cause may be lack of awareness and inappropriate policies that are not able to trigger positive change.

Social indicators are also desired because, they help in provision of enough and reliable information about the impact of the policies on a given groups and it becomes easier and possible to modify the policies and programs (Dunn, 2012). Policy problems can also be restructured and existing policies alternatives can be modified. School drop out problems can be determined using indices. For instance,. the records of the number of students that are dropping  in school can be  retrieved from various schools  and analyzed over a given number of years to determine whether they are dropping or not.

In case the number of school dropouts is reducing, then it may be postulated that the various policies instituted by the government are effective. However, if these numbers will continue to increase over the time then it means that the government is not handling the problem effectively or it may be that the government plans are effective but they do not much with the increasing population (Howell & Jackman, 2013). Consequently, I would recommend use of index in school dropouts because; it is easy to measure the government actions through the statistics that are analyzed. This is also effective because, it enhances accuracy and reliability because every government initiative or action is measured to determine the magnitude that it has or the effects it had on the rate of school drop out.

Despite the advantages of the social indicator, it has some limitations that should be put into consideration when adopted. One of the limitations is that there is a high risk of indicator conveying the political bias of the analysts. It may also not be effective for or useful for policy makers faced with practical choices.

Question three

This section provides rebuttal to various arguments using various threats of validity. One is the greater the cost of an alternative, the less likely it is that the alternative will be pursued. This argument is true in some situations but is not true in all situations. Situations vary and it is not true that all situations consider the cost as the major reference in making decisions.  Furthermore, it depends on the intention of the individual. The intentions of individuals vary and an individual whose intention is to impress will not consider the cost factor in making decisions on various issues. Another perspective to object this argument is that the cost may not be factored when the purpose of the project is factored. A project that is likely to bring many advantages in long term will not consider the cost of the project in decision-making.

The second argument is about the enforcement of speed of the maximum speed limit of 55 mph increases the costs of exceeding the speed limit.  Likewise, this argument is true in a way but is open to objection.  The cost of limiting speed to 55 mph may be high because of increased fuel consumption but it is essential to reduce the rates of accidents and loss of lives on roads. The cost of losing lives and spending more on fuel costs, which is the preferred option. Life is more important than saving fuel cost and time. As a result of this, I believe that driving at the speed recommended is important and less costly.

The third argument states that the mileage death rate fell from 4.3 to 3.6 deaths per 100 miles after the implementation of the 55-mph speed limit. The reduction in the deaths per mile cannot only be attributed to the implementation of the 55-mph stepped limit. It is true that this implementation contributed to this reduction but it is coupled with other unknown reasons, which may include, driving training, improved road and higher penalties and high traffic police checks.

The fourth argument is the 55-mph speed limit (National Speed Law of 1973) has been definitely successful in saving lives. The conclusion that 55-mph speed limit has succeeded in saving lives is not provable.  This is because; it is not only the laws observed on the roads. Many other factors are considered to ensure that the roads are safe and it is not only the speed limits. Due to the above, I refute this conclusion as many other factors came into play that helps in the reduction in the number of accidents. The argument could have made sense if it stated that speed limit of 55 mph was one of the measures that contributed to the reduction in deaths on the roads.


Dunn, W. (2012). Public policy analysis, fifth edition.  eTextbook.

Howell, W., & Jackman, S. (2013). Interbranch Negotiations over Policies with Multiple   Outcomes, American Journal of Political Science, 57(4): 956-970.



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