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We're Archerfish


We calculate the impact of policy ideas that work

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We're Archerfish


We calculate the impact of policy ideas that work

 

Who are we?

Archerfish is an economic advisory firm that specialises in collecting and analysing data to determine the economic impact of evidence-based interventions in health, education, social welfare, criminal justice, social services and housing.

Our clients are service providers and funders of policies and interventions designed to alleviate social disadvantage. 

We have specialised skills in clinical psychology, behavioural economics, health economics, epidemiology and data science. These skills provide us with a comprehensive understanding of the pragmatics of service delivery and the quantitative skills to focus policy and budgetary objectives.

Our work informs social policy analysis from the point of view of decision‑makers who are balancing the best interests of those less advantaged than most and taxpayers who expect governments to invest wisely.

What do we do?

  • We help our clients to formulate and critique evidence-based policies and practices. 
  • We tie reliable evidence and economic reasoning together to answer the question, ‘Which policies meet their design requirements and provide value for the funders’ money?’
  • We use decision tools like cost-benefit analysis, we provide advice to our clients on which policies and interventions have credibly measurable rates of return and which in turn, support budget submissions.

 
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We are rigorous in our analysis


We deal in facts

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We are rigorous in our analysis


We deal in facts

 

How do we do it?

We have used our expertise in behavioural economics, experimental psychology, data science, health economics and epidemiology to build a detailed cost-benefit model based on an approach developed by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. This involves building sectoral models of service provision to connect the often separate pillars that make up service delivery.

Our detailed Australian state-level cost-benefit model is able to provide an accurate estimation of the potential monetised benefits and costs of evaluated policies and programs.

Our modelling can be used by public sector agencies and non-government organisations at different levels of government to support funding applications for new, significant, or continuing, policy initiatives.

OUR APPROACH

Our approach to evidence-led cost benefit analysis is based on the following methodology. 

 
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We are data driven


What story do the numbers tell?

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We are data driven


What story do the numbers tell?

 

What is cost benefit analysis?

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is technique used to determine the benefits and costs associated with a particular policy intervention. Benefits and costs are expressed in monetary terms and are discounted by the time value of money. This allows costs and benefits, which generally occur at different time periods, to be expressed in terms of their net present value.

By monetising benefits a CBA allows decision makers to assess whether a policy intervention is a sound investment, as well providing the ability to compare it with competing policy options.

How can it be applied to social policy analysis?

In public policy, CBA has historically been limited to use in the analysis of investment decisions relating to major capital projects. However it is increasingly being applied in the analysis of policy options in social provision (health, education, social welfare, criminal justice, social services and housing). Pioneering work in this area has been driven by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) in the United States.

This approach to CBA for social policy involves a four-step process where the following questions are investigated:

WHAT POLICY INTERVENTIONS WORK?

A systematic review and meta‑analysis of the literature is conducted to identify evidence-based policy options that have been found to achieve an improvement in outcomes in high-quality experimental evaluations.

WHAT POLICY INTERVENTIONS MAKE ECONOMIC SENSE?

Using panel surveys, administrative data and budget papers the benefits and costs associated with each policy option are calculated.

WHAT LEVEL OF RISK SURROUNDS THESE ESTIMATES?

The estimates and assumptions used in the model are subjected to a risk assessment using the Monte Carlo simulation. Following this adjustment for risk, the model can be used to calculate the return on investment (or breakeven point) for each intervention.

HOW TO DEVELOP A PORTFOLIO OF POLICY OPTIONS?

Finally, the portfolio analysis can be used to determine which combination of policy interventions can provide the best return on investment given a particular budget. 

Why use cost-benefit analysis?

The use of CBA in this context has significant advantages over other forms of economic analysis as it allows decision makers to compare ‘apples and oranges’.

Cost-benefit analysis can be used to evaluate whether the cost of a policy intervention is a good use of resources when compared with other ways that money could be spent (allocative efficiency). In this regard, it allows analysts to think like investors as they consider how they can allocate their budget to get the best return on investment across a range of treatment and prevention policy options.

Other forms of economic analysis — such as cost‑effectiveness analysis — cannot easily produce these sorts of results because they require comparable outcomes. 

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Our approach to cost-benefit analysis adopts a societal or funders perspective, with most of the benefits formed by avoided costs, these may include:

  • Public costs – avoided or reduced intensity of resource use e.g. police or justice system costs
  • Private costs – avoided private externalities e.g. crime victimisation costs (both tangible and intangible)
  • Private benefits – labour productivity benefits (increased wages)

What can cost benefit analysis tell us?

The output from our model shows the costs and monetised benefits associated with evidence-based policy interventions in a particular policy area. As it uses a ‘lifetime’ time horizon, our model is able to capture all of the monetised benefits that accrue from this intervention and discount their impact to present value costs.

The monetisation of benefits in cost benefit analysis allows decision makers to compare the relative cost effectiveness of a suite of policy interventions. This attribute allows governments to be able to determine, for example what proportion of resources should be spent on prevention versus treatment‑based interventions.

 
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We help our clients to


Think like investors

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We help our clients to


Think like investors

 

What can we do for you?

We can assist service providers to explore the use of linked and administrative data to determine the impact of their policies or interventions.  

We can assist service providers to build a robust business case for recurrent and extended investment. Our approach is able to determine the return on investment and relative riskiness for each policy or intervention. 

We can help you make better decisions

We have a comprehensive understanding of the pragmatics of service delivery and the quantitative skills to focus policy and budgetary objectives. 

We seek to provide decision makers with the tools to invest their budgets wisely in programs and policies that deliver a positive return on investment.  

We like to be judged on the company we keep

Our clients are service providers and funders of policies and interventions designed to alleviate social disadvantage in Australia. They include: 

Want to learn more?

Drop us a line.

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