An important task for analysts and researchers is evaluating the effectiveness of policies and programs. These policy assessments focus on several key components of policies: intended goals, access to and quality of services and average impacts. However, despite persistent racial and ethnic gaps across social, economic and health indicators, policy assessments often do not include an explicit emphasis on racial/ethnic equity or a policy's impact on reducing racial/ethnic inequity.
"The PEA framework moves beyond asking whether a policy is working as intended and asks too whether the policy reduces racial/ethnic gaps in outcomes."
diversitydatakids.org developed the Policy Equity Assessment (PEA) to assist analysts and researchers as they evaluate the impact of policies and programs on racial/ethnic equity. We introduced the PEA in 2014 in an article in Health Affairs. The PEA framework embeds racial/ethnic equity within each policy assessment step and guides analysts to move beyond asking whether a policy is working as intended to ask instead whether the policy reduces racial/ethnic gaps in outcomes. The PEA emphasizes significant differences by race/ethnicity in access to and quality of services and policy impacts on reducing racial/ethnic disparities.
PEAs have three stages guided by key questions:
- Logic: Does the policy set explicit/implicit goals to address racial/ethnic gaps?
- Capacity: Does the policy have the capacity to meet the needs of the overall eligible population and those of each racial/ethnic subgroup?
- Research evidence: Is the policy effective for racial/ethnic subgroups, and does it reduce inequities?
The table below lists PEA method steps and examples of associated equity-focused questions.