Institutions and policies are implemented to achieve specific objectives. This research area aims to understand how effective these policy tools, institutions, and practices have been in reaching their goals. Policy evaluation has become a central instrument in policy making. First, policy-makers involved in consumers policies (e.g., regulatory agencies, competition authorities, ministries, and courts) are being held accountable for the sizable economic resources invested in the enforcement of these policies. Second, there is a growing interest in exploring how these policies can be more evidence-based and supported by empirical findings. Finally, through policy evaluations new insights can be gained on how to improve the implemented tools and to more effectively design the institutional setting under which policies are then enforced.
The common feature of the evaluation studies in this research area consists of applying state-of-the-art theoretical and empirical methodologies to understand if and why specific policy instruments were appropriate to reach their goals and how they could potentially be improved. These steps require the collection of suitable evidence and data as well as the definition of techniques and methodologies that can appropriately be used to make causal inference on the policy outcomes. This causal analysis assesses whether consumers would have been better off, had the policy maker made a different choice. Such an assessment can be addressed through: i) identifying possible alternative instruments that the policy makers could have used (i.e. counterfactuals); and ii) measuring the level of consumer welfare achieved by the actual tool compared to these counterfactuals. While the evaluation framework will be common across the different projects, the exact evaluation tools will be tailored to the specific policy intervention analyzed in the research tasks.