Propensity Score Analysis

Sarah Brown

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    In the evaluation of most interventions in criminal justice settings, evaluators have no control over assignment to treatment and control/comparison conditions, which means that the treated and comparison groups may have differences that lead to biased conclusions regarding treatment effectiveness. Propensity score analysis can be used to balance the differences in the groups, which can be used in a number of ways to reduce biased conclusions regarding effectiveness. A review of propensity scoring studies was conducted for this chapter, where the limited number of evaluations of criminal justice interventions using these methods was identified. Due to the small number of these studies, research was also reviewed if propensity scoring had been employed to evaluate interventions that are similar to those in criminal justice systems. These studies are used as examples to demonstrate how the methods can be used to evaluate criminal justice interventions, the different ways propensity scores can be used to analyse treatment and comparison group differences, and the strengths and limitations of this approach. It is concluded that, while not appropriate for all interventions/settings, propensity score analysis can be useful in criminal justice arenas, at least to investigate the comparability of treatment and comparison groups, with suspected non-comparability being a common weakness of traditional quasi-experimental studies and frequently cited limitation in terms of drawing efficacy conclusions from such evaluations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPerspectives on Evaluating Criminal Justice and Corrections
    EditorsErica Bowen, Sarah Brown
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78052-645-4
    ISBN (Print)978-1-78052-644-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Publication series

    NameAdvances in Evaluation Science


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