Public Policy Analysis
Public policy refers to the rules, regulations, and guidelines formulated by governments for the purpose of solving problems that have an impact on the society and the general public. Public policy analysis involves evaluating issues of public importance with the objective of providing facts and statistics about the extent and impact of the various policies of the government. The basic objective of public policy analysis is to assess the degree to which the policies are meeting their goals. Public policy analysis deals with the application of social science theories and methods to analyze matters of public importance.
Role of Public Policy Analysts
Public policy analysts specialize in problem solving. They deal with some of society’s most urgent issues involving crimes, education, healthcare, and environmental problems. Public policy analysts contribute in defining a problem that is understated or not clearly understood by policy makers. They also identify and contribute in making new policy proposals. Public policy analysts are involved in identifying the consequences of new proposed policies.
To analyze a public policy, the analysts begin by collecting evidence highlighting the problem. This might include conducting surveys, gathering expert opinions, and examining specific cases related to the problem. Public policy analysts often use the rational policy analysis approach to evaluate a policy. The rational policy analysis approach involves:
- Defining the problem
- Determining the evaluation criteria
- Identifying alternative policies
- Evaluating alternative policies
- Selecting the preferred policy
Public Policy Analysis as a Major in College
Students who opt for public policy analysis as a major in college are taught about different methods for analyzing proposed solutions to common social problems. As part of their education, they are taught to distinguish between correct and faulty research which forms the basis of major policy decisions. They adopt various analytical techniques such as cost-benefit analysis to assess the implication of applying the proposed solution. They get the opportunity to interact with various community leaders to discuss economic development policies and programs. Students of public policy analysis are required to intern for a semester and this offers a valuable chance for them to get first-hand experience of getting involved in policy making. Students of public policy analysis are often required to present a paper on any policy having a bearing on the society.
While pursuing a major in public policy analysis, students use various economic theories and tools such as cost-benefit analysis to evaluate policy decisions. They get the chance to formulate and critique important policies that make an impact on the environment and the society.
To major in public policy analysis, students need to have a questioning and analytical mind. Major policy decisions are based on statistics, therefore it helps to have a good grasp of numbers. Given their strong background in economics and mathematics, students of public policy analysis can play multiple roles. They have critical thinking and sharp decision-making skills.
A major in public policy analysis often leads to a bachelor’s degree. The high school courses that are recommended for students keen on pursuing public policy analysis are: Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Statistics, U.S. Government and Politics, and U.S. History.
Major courses involving Public Policy Analysis are: Community analysis, Healthcare policy, Policy Process and Development, Demography and Family policy, Criminal Justice issues, and Statistics and Data in Public Policy.
Career Options in Public Policy Analysis
Students pursuing a major in public policy analysis can opt for various career options, such as: government lawyers, education administrators, government executives and legislators, community organizers and activists, public interest advocates, and public lawyers.