Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Impact Study Design


Obtaining an unbiased impact estimate requires determining what the outcomes of program group youth would be in the absence of that program (known as the counterfactual). Because the counterfactual cannot be observed directly, it must be estimated. Randomly assigning members of the study sample to either a program group or a control group is considered the most valid approach for estimating the counterfactual. Because of random assignment, program and control groups are similar in all respects except their access to the program services, making the control group a highly credible counterfactual. As a result, unbiased estimates of program impacts can be generated by simply comparing mean values of outcome measures (such as sexual abstinence) for the program group with those for the control group. The evaluation of Title V, Section 510 program uses this type of experimental design.

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