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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Governmental Failures in Evaluating Programs


Consider a government that adopts a program, sees a noisy signal about its success, and decides whether to continue the program. Suppose further that the success of a program is greater if people think it will be continued. This paper considers the optimal decision rule for continuing the program, both when government can and cannot commit. We find that welfare can be higher when information is poor, that government should at times commit to continuing a program it believes had failed, and that a government which fears losing power may acquire either too much or too little information.

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