Administrative and Monitoring Data
Impact Evaluations can involve multiple sources of data. Although we are more commonly familiar with survey generated data, a lot can also be done with secondary data that is, for example, already collected by the government or program team.
Administrative data refers to any data that national or local government(s) (ministries, agencies etc.) may already be collecting outside of the impact evaluation. A few examples can be national census data, tax data, school enrollment data etc. A specificity is that this information is not initially collected for research purposes but rather for documentation and tracking of policy beneficiaries, firm owners and general population. The objective is not to replace surveys with administrative data but rather to use various source to complement what is already collected for the research project.
Administrative data provides the below advantages:
-Quality: this can often be considered more accurate than self-reported survey data (eg. firm turnover is more likely to be correctly reported to Financial Administrations than to a firm survey conducted by a research team) -Cost: as this information is collected regardless of the impact evaluation, it usually implies no cost on the research project (notwithstanding potential access costs) -Time: Administrative data is often collected on a regular basis, implying that in some cases information can be available at a rather high frequency level. This is also an advantage when evaluating retrospective interventions, when data collection surveys may not have taken place.
Potential difficulties to working with administrative data:
-Access: this requires good relations with national and/or local authorities. In some cases these may not be inclined to share the information. Developing good working relationships with stakeholders can help address this problem. -Merging: consolidating administrative data often requires to merge different databases together, this can be an extensive task when no common unique identifiers exist across the databases. -Presence and quality: not all government's have the same capacity to collect this information. As such, it is possible that the data is badly reported, not exhaustive or does not exist at all.
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This article is part of the topic Secondary Data Sources
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