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eStudy 126- Cost-Inclusive Evaluation: Why, What, How, When, and Where?

Brian T. Yates, Ph.D.

This is a Why? What? How? introduction to the different flavors and methods of cost-inclusive evaluation, salted throughout with examples from international aid programs, health and human services, substance use prevention programs, and more. Participants are given resources to follow-up areas and methods of interest, to learn and do more.

Why? ‘‘Everyone talks about costs . . . but nobody evaluates them!’’ Actually, that paraphrasing of Mark Twain’s witticism is no longer entirely true.

What? Due perhaps to an overwrought concern about lack of expertise in measuring costs, combined with a strong preference to evaluate outcomes that are more socially and politically acceptable than crass ‘‘cash,’’ evaluation has devoted overwhelmingly more articles, pages, courses, and workshops to measuring and improving outcomes than to measuring, let alone improving, costs. This, however, has begun to change. I suggest that we are now entering the age of cost-inclusive evaluation (CIE).

How? Now, in the second decade of the 21st Century, there are numerous ways to include costs in formative as well as summative evaluations to improve use of those evaluations in planning, advocacy, and philanthropy. Building on Henry Levin's ingredients model from the 1970s that conceptualized costs not as price but as the types, amounts, and monetary values of resources consumed by a program, today's many forms of cost-inclusive evaluation (CIE) also consider program activities, for more formative evaluation, nonmonetary outcomes such as Quality-Adjusted Life Years Gained, and, in Social Return on Investment (SROI) societal-level impacts on future expenditures and future incomes for individual program clients as well as for society at large.

Exploration of how different methods of cost-inclusive evaluation, particularly with spreadsheets detailing how the time of participants and providers are valued monetarily, leads into a discussion of how to recast cost-inclusive evaluation to minimize perpetuation and exacerbation of discrimination, and promote equity and inclusion, for recipients of services and participants in programs.

Additional questions of When? Who? and Where? also are addressed, in terms of when cost and outcome data are best collected, analyzed, and reports din evaluations. In terms of Who and Where?, an active role for evaluators in cost-inclusive evaluation is advocated and demonstrated with further examples of evaluators working within programs and communities.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Why costs, and monetary outcomes, are important to include in evaluations
  • What types of cost-inclusive evaluations have been developed for which types of evaluation?
  • How a simple, formative cost-inclusive evaluation can be done in almost any evaluation

This workshop is aligned to AEA’s Competencies and Guiding Principles as follows:
Systematic Inquiry: Evaluators conduct data-based inquiries that are thorough, methodical, and contextually relevant.

Professional Practice Domain: Focuses on what makes evaluators distinct as practicing professionals, Methodology Domain: Focuses on technical aspects of evidence-based, systematic inquiry for valued purposes., Context Domain: Focuses on understanding the unique circumstances, multiple perspectives, and changing settings of evaluations and their users/stakeholders., Planning and Management Domain: Focuses on determining and monitoring work plans, timelines, resources, and other components needed to complete and deliver an evaluation study

Facilitation Experience:

Since the mid-1970s I have taught versions of this workshop once or more to different associations and agencies, including AEA, APA (the American Psychological Association), ABCT (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies), and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). In response to the more interactive and simpler-is-better approach I have seen in many presentations and trainings during the pandemic, I recently revamped my workshop massively in response to an invitation to present a talk at the Washington Evaluators (virtual) meeting. I also have taught earlier editions of this workshop at the Summer Institute. With simpler, more straight-forward presentations of material, and more time for questions, answers, discussion, and examples in a format that still allows large numbers of participants, I believe this workshop will be a well-received introduction to an exciting area of evaluation that is increasingly in demand by funders as well as evaluators

Most of my 99 publications, including several of my 5 books, describe methods and findings of cost-inclusive evaluations I and my colleagues have and are conducting in programs ranging from health and human services, suicide prevention, substance abuse treatment, and work with children and adolescents.


January 12, 2023 12:00 - 1:30 PM ET
January 19, 2023 12:00 - 1:30 PM ET


Once you purchase the eStudy you must register for each session. Recordings will be made available to registrants unable to attend sessions live. Recordings will be made available to all registrants for 90 days.