Before the introduction of the household benefit cap in the UK in 2013 the previous mechanism there limited the income of social assistance recipients was the wage stop, operating for four decades between 1935 and 1975. Similar to the benefit cap, the wage stop reflected and reproduced concerns with incentivising unemployed people to labour. This raises questions about why the wage stop was abolished in the mid-1970s when worries about unemployment continued, particularly its intersections with out-of-work benefits. It is widely argued that the abolition of the wage stop was a consequence of lobbying by the Child Poverty Action Group. Drawing upon records held at the UK’s National Archives, this article argues that this is an over-simplified explanation that, first, ignores concerns with the wage stop that pre-dated the Child Poverty Action Group’s criticism of it, including concerns within the assistance boards with its administration. And, second, while by the mid-1970s there was (albeit ambiguous) concern with the impacts of the wage stop, there was a shift in approach that emphasised the supplementation of low wages with social security benefits, rather than forcing social assistance below the assessed needs of households, as being a preferable means of ensuring the incentive to take wage-labour.
Understanding how policymakers define research and differentiate it from other sources of data is critical for scientists to improve how they conduct and communicate research to policy audiences. Yet, few studies have explicitly asked policymakers – particularly state legislators in the USA – how they define research evidence.
We sought to fill this gap via in-depth interviews with 168 policymakers from two Midwestern states; 32 of whom were nominated by their colleagues as exemplar research users. Findings were triangulated via interviews with experienced key informants from both states. In-depth interviews were the preferred methodology for our research question, as they offered legislators the chance to describe research in their own words and elaborate on examples when needed.
For many legislators, definitions of research largely aligned with how the scientific community might define research; both Republicans and Democrats defined research as peer-reviewed studies with specific qualities that distinguish research evidence from other types of information. However, some legislators defined research with a broader lens, including different types of information (for example, anecdotes) and qualities of information (for example, accessibility, relevance, credibility, and unbiased) as part of their definition.
Discussion and conclusions:
Researchers may better engage policy audiences by referring to the types and qualities legislators mentioned because policymakers prefer evidence from rigorous studies to those that are poorly executed or politically motivated. Legislators called this ‘bogus’ research, ‘party’ research or ‘pseudoscience’. Researchers can signal their credibility by being transparent regarding funding sources and reasons or motivation for conducting studies.
There are limited studies focused on examining specific types of evidence, like surveys beyond the US and territories with unicameral legislatures and unique contexts.
Aims and objectives:
To measure the extent of survey research being used as evidence in policymaking in Hong Kong.
Through document analysis, this study screened and examined Hong Kong Legislative Council documents utilised to enact 569 bills from 2000 to 2022.
About 25% of bills utilised surveys as evidence, with differences across 18 policy areas. Health services recorded the highest percentage of survey use in legislation. In the Hong Kong legislature, surveys are primarily used to understand policy issues better. Mode of data collection, sample size, response rates, and representativeness of surveys are not commonly discussed in legislative documents.
Discussion and conclusion:
The study findings reaffirm previous research on the limited utilisation of survey evidence in policymaking in Hong Kong, an Asian context with a unicameral legislation and colonial history. The importance of survey evidence was highlighted in policy areas that directly impact the public, such as healthcare. The findings also highlight the important role of politics in investigating the use of surveys as research evidence for policymaking.
This commentary responds to Gade in ‘When is it justified to claim that a practice or policy is evidence-based? Reflections on evidence and preferences’ (Evidence & Policy, XX(XX): 1–10, DOI: 10.1332/174426421X16905606522863).
In this practice paper, a number of ‘first impressions’ from practical volunteering in community food projects are explored through academic and grey literature: the complexity of decision making; valorising the symptoms rather than the causes of problems; shunting risk; and the marketisation of both volunteering and community food projects. Volunteers, as policy takers, can only soften rather than resolve these issues. The state’s view of the advantages of using volunteers corresponds to the main difficulties of volunteering, for volunteers.
How funding is distributed is an important question in philanthropy. But limited work has asked this question about philanthropy originating on the continent of Africa. This article explores the effective distribution of grants by a community-based South African non-profit organisation through the lens of transaction cost economics. Instead of needs-based indicators, this study finds that internet access is the main indicator of funding, with areas with lower internet access receiving fewer funds than those with higher internet access. This indicates that funding by community-based non-profits may not always be reaching the areas with the highest amount of need, but areas with lower search costs. Overall, community-based organisations may deal with issues similar to international organisations in reaching local non-profit organisations and disenfranchised communities. Targeted outreach, specifically to areas with lower access to the internet, can help to ameliorate these differences.
Randomised trials have been on the rise in social policy over the last decade and a half, particularly in areas working with young people and vulnerable adults. Informed consent is an important principle for ethics committees governing research conducted by universities.
Aims and objectives:
We consider the arguments for and against opt-in consent by parents, and opt-out assent, when it comes to trials taking place, particularly in schools.
We review what is known about this from a methodological standpoint.
We find that extant evidence suggests that requiring opt-in consent, rather than assent, to participation, risks reducing the ethical standards of trials by minimising participation; and by potentially risking disclosure of sensitive information about a child’s life to their parents. Moreover, there are important equity considerations, with more vulnerable groups likely to be excluded from research findings under an opt-in framework.
Discussion and conclusion:
We conclude that the ethical argument for assent rather than consent is compelling under some circumstances, and should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Precautions must always be taken to safeguard participants.
There has been an unprecedented global increase in digital volunteering since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, in many countries, including Central and Eastern Europe, online volunteering is under-researched and large-scale tools, such as volunteering crowdsourcing platforms, are only beginning to emerge in response to crises. This article presents practical lessons for engaging and retaining online volunteers, drawn from an evaluation of the only Polish crowdsourcing platform dedicated to e-volunteering: TuDu.org.pl.