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Laura Peck, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Social & Economic Policy, and Director, Research, Monitoring, & Evaluation Expertise Center

Laura Peck, Ph.D. Laura Peck, Ph.D.
Laura Peck is a nationally renowned policy evaluation methodologist. As a principal scientist, Peck applies her expertise to the evaluation of policies and programs across the substantive areas in SEP, including welfare, housing, education, income security. and employment.
A former tenured associate professor at Arizona State University, Peck is an innovative thinker, focused on fresh ways to more precisely estimate program impacts in both experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations. She was the lead developer of Abt’s Social Impact Policy Pathfinder (SPI-Path), a suite of analytic tools that use data from experimentally designed evaluations to determine what drives program impacts. Her thought leadership on this topic is summarized here (video and paper).
Peck provides intellectual leadership and management to a team of analysts supporting work for several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department of Labor (DOL). For example, she is co-principal investigator for HUD’s Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling Demonstration and Impact Evaluation and for HHS’s Experimental Impact Evaluation of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants Program.
Peck is a member of Abt’s Development & Dissemination Program Steering Committee. In that capacity she works with colleagues to support their success in publishing in peer-reviewed journals to contribute to scholarly discourse. She serves on the Policy Council of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM; elected to 2013-2015 term) and recently completed a four-year term as Associate Editor for the American Journal of Evaluation. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and the co-author of a public policy textbook. 

She holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration from New York University.
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Areas of Expertise

  • Experimental and quasi-experimental evaluation design and analysis
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Social welfare policy

Key Projects

  • Social Policy Impact Pathfinder (SPI-Path)
  • Health Profession Opportunity Grants Program (HPOG) Impact Evaluation (HHS/ACF/OPRE)
  • Job Search Assistance Strategies Evaluation (HHS/ACF/OPRE)
  • Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling Demonstration and Impact Evaluation (HUD)
  • Green Jobs-Health Care Training Program Evaluation (DOL) 

Selected Recent Publications

  • Moulton, Shawn R.; Peck, Laura R.; Greeney, Adam (2017). Analyzing the Influence of Dosage in Social Experiment, With Application to the Supporting Health Marriage Program. American Journal of Evaluation. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214017698566
  • Peck, Laura R. (2016). Social Experiments in Practice:  The What, Why, When, Where and How of Experimental Design and Analysis. Special issue of New Directions for Evaluation
  • Bell, Stephen H.; Peck, Laura R. (2016). On the Feasibility of Extending Social Experiments to Wider Applications. MultiDisciplinary Journal of Evaluation. 12(27), 93-111
    Peck, Laura R. (2015). Using Impact Evaluation Tools to Unpack the Black Box and Learn What Works. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, 11(24): 54-67.
  • Peck, Laura R. & Chao Guo. (2014). How Does Welfare Use Affect Charitable Activity?  A Tale of Two Methods.  Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. DOI: 10.1177/0899764014527642
  • Moulton, Shawn, Laura R. Peck, & Keri-Nicole Dillman.  (2014). Moving to Opportunity’s Impact on Health and Well-being Among High Dosage Participants. Housing Policy Debate, 24(2): 415-446.  DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2013.875051
  • Peck, Laura R. (2013). On Analysis of Symmetrically-Predicted Endogenous Subgroups: Part One of a Method Note in Three Parts. American Journal of Evaluation, 34(2): 225-236. DOI: 10.1177/1098214013481666
  • Bell, Stephen H. and Laura R. Peck. (2013). Using Symmetric Predication of Endogenous Subgroups for Causal Inferences about Program Effects under Robust Assumptions: Part Two of a Method Note in Three Parts. American Journal of Evaluation. 34(2). DOI: 10.1177/1098214013489338
  • Harvill, Eleanor L., Laura R. Peck & Stephen H. Bell. (2013). On Overfitting in Analysis of Symmetrically Predicted Endogenous Subgroups from Randomized Experimental Samples: Part Three of a Method Note in Three Parts.  American Journal of Evaluation, 34(4): 545-556.  DOI: 10.1177/1098214013503201
  • Peck, Laura R., Ida D’Attoma, Furio Camillo and Chao Guo. (2012). A New Strategy for Reducing Selection Bias in Non-Experimental Evaluations, and The Case of How Public Assistance Receipt Affects Charitable Giving. Policy Studies Journal, 40(4): 601-625.
  • Peck, Laura R., Yushim Kim and Joanna Lucio. (2012). An Examination of Validity in Evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 33(3): 350-365. DOI: 10.1177/1098214012439929

Blog Posts

Peck, Laura R. “Yes, You Can Generalize from Experiments!” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, Aug. 30, 2017
Peck, Laura R. “When Is Randomization Right for Evaluation?” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, March 7, 2017 
Bell, Stephen H.; Peck, Laura R. “The Ethics of Experimental Evaluations, Things You Can Learn From Randomized Experiments, and More” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, Feb. 15, 2017
Peck, Laura R.; Porowski, Allan. “Black Boxes, the Counterfactual, and Bringing Order to RCTs” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, Dec. 21, 2016. 
Peck, Laura R. “When is Randomization Right for Evaluation?” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, March 7, 2016.
Peck, Laura R. “What Can Experimental Evaluations Tell Us? And Why We Should Not Be So Doubtful About What They Won’t Tell Us.” AEA365 blog, Jan. 9, 2017.
Peck, Laura R.; Bell, Stephen H. “The Ethics of Using Experimental Evaluations in the Field.” AEA365 blog, Jan. 8, 2017. 
Peck, Laura R. “The Origins and Meaning of the ‘Black Box’ Label and How Innovative Experimental Research is Working Shake It.” AEA365 blog, Dec.16, 2016.
Peck, Laura R. “How I Learned to Love the Counterfactual.” AEA365 blog, Dec. 13, 2016.
Peck, Laura R.; Bocian, Debbie. “What a New Study Tells Us about Homebuyer Education and Counseling.” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, June 30, 2016.
Grindal, Todd; Peck, Laura R. “Sometimes, the Story is in the Subgroups.” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, Feb. 19, 2016.
Peck, Laura R. “From Middle Age to Golden Age: What the Future of Evaluation Holds.” A joint blogpost between Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and Abt Associates Inc. Nov. 23, 2015.
Peck, Laura R.; Cortez, Alvaro. “You’re a What? A Program Evaluator?” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, Oct. 16, 2015.
Peck, Laura R. “Why Randomize? A Primer on Experimental Evaluations.” Abt Associates Inc. Perspectives blogpost, Sept. 7, 2015.
Peck, Laura R. “Key Ingredients in the Program Recipe: Insights from Baking for Program Evaluation.” APPAM blogpost, Oct. 29, 2014. 
Peck, Laura R. “Questions We're Addressing: Why is Investing in Rigorous Evaluation So Important?” Abt Associates Q&A, Jun 25, 2013