CONSIDERATIONS OF EFFICIENCY IN POLICY EVALUATION: AN APPLICATION TO CHILD WELFARE POLICY
Degree awarded: Ph.D. Economics. American University Amartya Sen`s capability framework emphasizes that human well-being depends both on the resources available to individuals and on the unique processes by which individuals convert resources into well-being. Although the capability approach has inspired many scholars and policymakers, its usefulness for policy evaluation remains in question. Further, there is no consensus about how to capture the conversion process in an evaluation of policy. In this dissertation, I argue that it is the explicit treatment of the conversion process that makes the capability framework highly useful for the evaluation of policy that aims to improve human well-being. I further show that a well-known econometric technique, stochastic frontier analysis, captures the most salient aspects of the conversion process. Finally, I use the stochastic frontier analysis to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of outpatient mental health services provided to children who come into contact with child protective services in the United States.