Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Students finalists in national competition for graduate research

A workshop report by students in the international public affairs program is a finalist for the Marykathryn Kubat Award given by the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis.

Ingrid Aune, Yanyan Chen, Christina Miller and Joshua Williams are heading to Washington, D.C., July 9-10 to present their research and participate in the association's spring symposium. Projects submitted to the competition analyze the current social, economic, and political landscape and offer alternatives for change. Students are encouraged to include historical references to the evolution of the budget process, program analysis and performance measures, or fiscal policy when appropriate.

The four recent grads produced "The MCC Incentive Effect: Quantifying Incentives for Policy Change in an Ex-Post Reward System" for professor Melanie Manion's Workshop in International Public Affairs.

The students prepared the report for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. agency that uses a rewards system to determine potential eligibility for international aid funding. International observers note that the "MCC incentive effect" takes place when countries change policies specifically to meet MCC eligibility requirements. After studying the effect, the authors conclude no strong quantitative evidence supports an argument that the MCC incentive effect exists. They also offer suggestions for how the effect should be studied.

"This is an excellent report on an important issue: how to structure incentives in development aid," Manion says. "There is no more thorough investigation, innovative questioning, or methodologically sophisticated analysis of the 'MCC effect' than in this report."