Published In

Public Development Banks: Toward a New Paradigm?

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Development banks, Development credit corporations, Economic development, Development banks -- Evaluation


PDB programs have become a fundamental ingredient of productive development policy strategies in most emerging economies. Although the overall need for these interventions is rarely questioned, academics and policymakers often debate their effectiveness, as well as the optimal approaches and instruments necessary to implement them. Therefore, the need to produce rigorous evaluations of PDBs has become increasingly relevant for both government and civil society (see Chapter 2).

This chapter presents the main concepts and operational arguments regarding the execution of indepth impact evaluations of PDB initiatives and instruments. For a more practical approach, these arguments are presented with examples of such evaluations, which have either ended or are ongoing, as well as of other programs that relate to their activities. This, however, limits the scope of this chapter.

First, only one key aspect of the evaluation process is included: the attribution of effects. This suggests that all the methods and techniques covered address the fundamental problem of identifying the causal relationship between public policy intervention and the observed changes in the study’s target population. Other important elements relating to a comprehensive evaluation process—such as efficiency, relevance, and institutional coherence—fall beyond the scope of this analysis.

Second, only quantitative approaches are included, in order to solve the problem of attribution. This does not, in any way, imply that the contribution made by the qualitative approaches to the study of PDBs is not appreciated. On the contrary, quantitative and qualitative approaches are complementary, but much more exhaustive studies are required to include both. This chapter focuses mainly on the methodological literature based on counterfactual analysis, which stems from applying experimental and quasi-experimental methods to the evaluation of public policy.

Interventions that are applicable to a PDB can cover a wider range of sectors than can be dealt with in one chapter alone. Therefore, the analysis and discussion in this chapter is restricted to those PDB initiatives that improve access to credit for the productive sector (business and agriculture). As such, it is possible to discuss more specific ideas and suggestions, while acknowledging that the complexity and characteristics of PDB programs call for more specific studies.

The rest of this chapter is structured as follows. It begins with a section posing the most important questions that are (or should be) included in any study of PDB effectiveness. The following section will identify the most commonly used indicators in these studies and the potential sources of information needed to establish such indicators. Later, the chapter analyzes the methods to respond to important questions relating to an evaluation, thus ensuring that the effects are correctly attributed. The final section explores the resources required to carry out a rigorous PDB evaluation.


Note: At the time of writing, Cesar Rodriguez was affiliated with the Inter-American Development Bank.

Originally appeared in Public Development Banks: Toward a New Paradigm?, © Inter-American Development Bank, 2013.

Available at

Persistent Identifier