Center for Economic Evaluation

We are committed to rigorous and transparent economic analyses that generate evidence-based insights for more efficient and equitable systems, policies, and practices.

Three people discussing graphs on a board.

The Center for Economic Evaluation supports rigorous economic evaluations across fields including education, health, international, and workforce development. 

  • We collaborate with leaders, organizations, and communities to analyze costs and outcomes to generate actionable, evidence-based insights. 

  • We lead the field in raising the standards of economic evaluation to provide policymakers and practitioners with the essential information they need to make informed investment decisions. 

Types of Economic Analysis

Q&A with Center Leaders on New Cost Analysis Standards

Jesse Levin (Director) and Amanda Danks (Associate Director) share why the new standards were developed, how they can be used, and what makes them particularly relevant now.

Read the Q&A 

Our experts specialize in three types of economic evaluation:

  • Cost Analysis: We use the best-practice ingredients approach to analyze costs to gain a deeper understanding of the resources used to implement interventions. Policymakers and current or prospective implementers can use the results to determine resource requirements, affordability, and sustainability. 

  • Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: We rigorously analyze intervention cost and effectiveness to show how cost compares to outcomes produced. Decisionmakers can use measures of cost-effectiveness to identify and select preferred interventions.

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: We combine rigorous measures of intervention cost and the dollar values of the outcomes to determine the benefit-cost ratio and net-present value of an intervention. Decisionmakers can use these measures to decide if an intervention is worthwhile or to select from a set of alternatives. 


The Center offers a deep bench of highly experienced researchers who have spent decades developing, using, and refining economic evaluation methods across multiple content areas. As leading experts in this field, the Center

  • Proposes and conducts economic evaluations with external partners that serve as a study centerpiece or as a compliment to other types of investigations (e.g., impact, implementation, or fidelity analyses)

  • Consults on all phases of conducting an economic evaluation including planning, data collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination

  • Reports findings in ways that meet the needs of multiple audiences, including policymakers, practitioners, and the public

  • Assists clients with developing a Request for Proposal or reviewing incoming proposals that include an economic evaluation 

Featured Work

Preschool teacher and students playing with blocks

Spotlight on Early Childhood Cost and Finance 

AIR’s early childhood cost and finance team informs state decisions about the true cost of high-quality early care and education, the systems that support it, and revenue sources that can fund it. Our work has focused on childcare subsidies, different preschool models, and support for birth-to-five children with special needs.

people stacking hands

Standards for the Economic Evaluation of Educational and Social Programs

AIR developed these field-defining standards as part of the Cost Analysis Standards Project. The new standards to help ensure economic evaluations of educational and social programs are both rigorous and comparable, while offering the field clear guidelines for designing and conducting economic evaluations of educational and social policies and programs. The Institute for Education Sciences lists the standards as a key resource under its Standards for Excellence in Education Research

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Center Goals

Our work is always purpose-driven. We strive to 

  • Conduct rigorous economic evaluations using the highest possible standards;

  • Promote the use of economic evaluation to produce evidence-based insights that inform investment decisions;

  • Communicate findings from economic evaluations in meaningful ways to a wide variety of audiences;

  • Foster innovation in economic evaluation methodology to improve the accuracy and usefulness of findings.


Tammy Kolbe
Principal Researcher
Image of Jesse Levin
Principal Economic Researcher
Image of Amanda Danks
Senior Researcher