image Visit coronavirus.govVisit disclaimer page for the latest Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) updates.
View ACF COVID-19 Responses and Resources

Career Pathways Intermediate Outcomes Study: Plan for Cost-Benefit Analyses

October 11, 2017
Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Career Pathways Intermediate Outcomes (CPIO) Study, 2014-2019 | Learn more about this project, Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Evaluation Portfolio | Learn more about this project
Download report (pdf)
  • File Size 559kb
  • Pages 45
  • Published 2017


This document lays out a plan for the cost-benefit analyses (CBAs) that will be conducted for up to six of the nine Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) programs. The Career Pathways Intermediate Outcomes (CPIO) study is evaluating the intermediate impacts and outcomes of the PACE programs. The CBAs cover the three-year period after study enrollment. The CBAs planned in this document will accompany and extend the related “what works” impact analyses of the CPIO study. This document will guide the estimation of the costs of providing the PACE programs and our comparison of these costs with gains in employment and self-sufficiency measured in the impact analyses.

Research Questions

  1. 1 How will we determine and monetize the costs and benefits of six selected PACE programs?
  2. 2 How will we use the monetized costs and benefits to determine the net present value (NPV) of each PACE program—a metric that can inform policymakers’ decisions about program approaches?


This document will serve as a reference resource and guide for the CBAs of PACE programs that we are conducting as part of the CPIO study.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • We will conduct the CBAs from a societal perspective, where as many benefits and costs as possible are included regardless of the party experiencing the benefit or incurring the cost. For example, in addition to including the benefits due to increased incomes for treatment group members, we also will include resulting changes in government tax revenues and spending on public benefits. Along with evaluating the societal perspective, the CBAs will also examine the benefits and costs that only accrue to key stakeholders such as program participants and the government.
  • Costs and benefits cannot be identified without context. The PACE programs were implemented with a randomly assigned treatment group (able to enroll in PACE program) and control group (not able to enroll in PACE program). In the CBAs, the outcomes and costs of the control group will provide the necessary context for the outcomes and costs of the treatment group. That is, the benefits of the PACE programs are the value of outcomes for treatment group members less the value of the corresponding “business as usual” outcomes for the control group. Similarly, costs of the PACE programs are calculated as the value of all resources used to provide the program less estimated costs of any use of non-PACE education and training programs that control group participants may have accessed.
  • Complete data on all benefits and costs are not always available. This plan details how we will impute and assume values for costs or benefits when data are not available from observed study participant and program data. This includes taking benchmarks from external research and developing projections about future earnings based on observed data.


The CBAs will consist of four steps:

  1. Measure and monetize each PACE program’s costs and benefits,
  2. Calculate the net present value of each PACE program,
  3. Consider benefits that are not monetized, and
  4. Conduct sensitivity analyses.

This plan describes the methodology and data sources for implementing each of these steps in the CBAs.


Samuel Dastrup, Kimberly Burnett, and Larry Buron. (2017). Career Pathways Intermediate Outcomes Study: Plan for Cost-Benefit Analyses, OPRE Report # 2017-68. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Cost-Benefit Analyses
Career Pathways Intermediate Outcomes study
Delta Cost Project Database
Earned Income Tax Credit
Health Profession Opportunity Grants program
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
National Directory of New Hires
National Student Clearinghouse
Net present value
Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education program
Last Reviewed: November 13, 2018