What is Policy Analysis?

Policy or public policy is the reflection of how people or citizens residing in a particular state or society maintain a better standard of living and a good life, and how they strive to achieve that better standard of living through their political institutions.  This political institution means the government which the people choose as their representatives so that the needs of the citizens or the individual residing in that particular political society are taken off.

The process through which the potential of a policy is identified, which can address the problems of the public or the individual residing in that particular political society and then comparing a single policy with the other policy options available to determine which one is the more effective and efficient policy that can help the public. This process is known as policy analysis.

Approaches Involved in Policy Analysis

A public policy can be analyzed in 2 major ways:

  1. Firstly, it is very important to analyze the existing policy which can be analytical or descriptive which attempts to explain the policy and its development. This gives the policymaker a better understanding of why the existing policy is not the best fit for the public and it is necessary to see what can be improved in that policy so that an efficient result is expected.
  2. Secondly and most importantly it is required to analyze and formulate new policies to fill the loopholes that were in the existing policy. This kind of “Policy Research” is done in a prescriptive manner which involves formulating policies and also putting out proposals that can improve the social welfare of the people. 
"Policy analysis"

More approaches can be used in terms of policy analysis:

  • Analysis- centric: This is a micro-level analysis in which individual problems are studied and the solutions of those individual problems are given separately. The interpretation of the problem usually involves some technical solutions. However, the main goal of this policy analysis is to evaluate and identify the most efficient solution that can be provided for the problem in terms of economics and technology. For example, if the economy is not doing well, there might be a problem of asset allocation or a problem in the allocation of resources. Therefore, this kind of analysis primarily concentrates on how the resources can be efficiently allocated so that the optimal output is expected.
  • The policy process: The second approach is known as the policy process. Its main point of discussion is into the political process along with its involved individuals. The main aim of the policy process is to determine what process should be used to evaluate the policy, what kind of means should be used, and what the policy instruments, namely regulation legislation are and subsidy can be used.
  • The meta policy: The third process is known as the meta policy. This policy is looking into the problems and the solution on a macro scale. The interpretation of the problem, in this case, is usually structural. The main aim of meta-policy is to explain the contextual factors affecting the policy process. For example, we can say that the political, economic, and sociological factors are there to influence public policy and consequently the social welfare.


The process of policy analysis usually involves both methods which are mainly qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative method of policy analysis mainly focuses on the research of policy or policy research, case studies, and interviews with the members of the community or the members of the political state. On the other hand, the quantitative method involves statistical analysis model building and survey research. To have an efficient and effective public policy, it is important to incorporate both qualitative and quantitative methods for a better result.

Policies are usually considered as frameworks that can be brought out the optimal level of significance in terms of the social wellbeing of the individual or people residing in the political state of society. Whenever a policy evaluation or whenever a policy analysis is done, it is expected to bring the outcome that throws light into the policy issues that were there in the existing policy that has to be withdrawn as it wasn't giving fruitful results.

Steps Involved in Doing Policy Analysis.

  • The first and foremost step involved in policy analysis is that it is very important to understand what is the problem underlying the existing policy that requires the need for a new policy.
  • While doing policy analysis it is very important to access the policy object and also to know which section of the population is being targeted for the policy undertaken for the analysis.
  • Evaluating the effects of the policy when implemented.
  • The study of policy implication is also important which involves the allocation of resources, benefits that are tangible to the society, changes in rights.
  • Keeping alternative policies on hold and also understanding that why the existing policy model fails to resolve the issues of the society.

How to Know that there are No Policy Issues and it's a Successful Policy?

Evaluation of the implemented policy is very important to know how effective the policy is. To measure the success level of a policy it is important to study what are the changes in the behaviour of the targeted population that have taken place after the policy has been implemented for quite a period of time.

Policy evaluation is an integral part of policy analysis. This is because it helps in understanding that how effective the policy is and how efficiently is it working towards its object or goal or primary aims. Also, we get to know the utility of the policy.

For evaluating any policy there are mainly 10 steps involved that are as follows-

  1. To clarify the policy.
  2. To engage the individuals who are involved with the government.
  3. To understand what kind of resources are available and how they can be used for the optimal output.
  4. To determine what kind of evaluation questions are to be answered in the policy.
  5. To have a clear vision that what kinds of methods and procedures are to be followed while formulating the policy.
  6. To have a rough idea that how the evaluation plan will look like.
  7. To collect relevant data based on the policy analysis which an individual is doing.
  8. The policy analysis is required to do the data analysis and also interpret the results to get a clear vision of what kind of problems are needed to be addressed.
  9. To compare the existing policy analysis with the new policy analysis and to also interpret what kind of data analysis has been done in the previous policy and what has failed.
  10. Lastly, applying the evaluation findings that are done from the very beginning of the policy analysis.

In conclusion, it can be said that the implementation of policies undertaken by the government is one of the main things to be looked upon under policy analysis. Public policy analysis plays a very important role because it formulates a framework for a new policy by evaluating the fact that due to which particular reason the last policy has failed to bring about positive changes.

Context and Applications   

This topic is significant in the professional exams for both undergraduate and graduate courses, especially for 

  • BA in economics
  • MA in economics
  • B.com
  • MBA

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