Economic Evaluation

Jennifer Francis and Ann Netten

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:
Economic Evaluation


In a weak economic climate, politicians and local government decision makers cannot afford to ignore value-for-money considerations in the provision of publicly funded welfare. They must choose the most efficient intervention to maximize the overall societal benefit available from these scarce resources. Therefore, the effectiveness of an intervention alone is insufficient evidence on which to base decisions: the costs of an intervention might outweigh its benefits, or an alternative intervention might achieve the same outcome for a lower cost. Analysis of the benefits and costs of an intervention or service is known as economic evaluation. The development of approaches to economic evaluation for decision making is far more advanced in the field of health care than it is in social welfare. Important differences between social services and health care in the organization and provision of services mean that the methodology of health economics cannot simply be transferred. A different approach to economic evaluation in social services is required so that the evidence can be used reliably to inform decision making at policy and practice levels. This entry introduces the reader to different types of economic evaluation and explains some of the important features of social services that require a distinct approach to the application of economic evaluation methods. Finally, the entry outlines some of the ways that social work professionals can contribute to and draw on evidence from analysis of the costs and benefits of social services.

Article.  4826 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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