The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 12–17 | Cite as

What Can We Learn from Impact Evaluations?

  • Robert Lensink
Special Debate Section


In the past decade, non-governmental organizations have been increasingly pressed to demonstrate whether their projects and programs are effective and contribute to enhancing the well-being of their beneficiaries. Although monitoring and evaluation have always been part of aid policies, most traditional evaluation methods come in for criticism because of their lack of rigor, selection biases and inability to address cause-and-effect questions. A recent surge in impact evaluations represents a response to the growing demands of policy makers that they be better informed about the impact of aid policies in general and specific aid projects in particular. Such impact evaluations must be clearly differentiated from evaluations in general: Whereas traditional evaluations address questions about the design or implementation of a project/program, impact evaluations are structured around attribution questions, namely, whether the change in outcomes is caused by the intervention....


  1. Casey, K., Glennerster, R. and Miguel, E. (2012) Reshaping institutions: Evidence on aid impacts using a preanalysis plan. Quarterly Journal of Economics 127 (4): 1755–1812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Camfield, L. and Duvendack, M. (2014) Impact evaluation: Are we ‘off the gold standard’? European Journal of Development Research 26 (1): 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Deaton, A. (2010) Instruments, randomization, and learning about development. Journal of Economic Literature 48 (2): 424–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gertler, P., Martinez, S., Premand, P., Rawlings, L. and Vermeersch, C. (2011) Impact Evaluation in Practice, World Bank, Scholar
  5. Guijt, I. and Roche, C. (2014) Does impact evaluation in development matter? Well, it depends what its for!. European Journal of Development Research 26 (1): 46–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Harrison, G.W. (2014) Impact evaluation and welfare evaluation. European Journal of Development Research 26 (1): 39–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Miguel, E. and Kremer, M. (2004) Worms: Identifying impacts on education and health in the presence of treatment externalities. Econometrica 72 (1): 159–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Picciotto, R. (2014) Is impact evaluation evaluation? European Journal of Development Research 26 (1): 18–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. White, H. (2014) Current challenges in impact evaluation. European Journal of Development Research 26 (1): 18–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Lensink
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and Business, University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Wageningen UniversitySocial Sciences, WageningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations