Positive Analysis and Normative Analysis

Positive Analysis and Normative Analysis




Positive Analysis and Normative Analysis

Positive analysis provides factual statements about the world that are descriptive by nature. It makes use of scientific principles to arrive at empirical solutions. Empirical represents solutions that are objective and testable. Dunn puts it that “The main function of this analysis is to explain, understand and predict the policies by identifying patterns causality” (Dunn 2015). Normative analysis, on the other hand, is said to be a set of logically consistent propositions that evaluate or prescribe action. Its main focus is on what the goals of public policy should be. Normative analysis makes use of moral beliefs or judgments in claiming whether an outcome will be positive or negative. The difference between the methods of analysis, come out very clearly.

In a case study of the productivity challenge in Singapore by Hawyee Auyong 2014, a positive analysis of the situation established and described causes of the challenge. Some of the causes included a large contingent of foreign workforce, an economy that was not innovatively driven, and many more. Various solutions were put on the table to remedy the solution. These solutions were reached through normative analysis. Some of the solutions included charging a higher levy on foreign workers and setting up of institutions to inspire innovation. The implementation of the solutions is not a certainty that the outcome will bear fruit, but normative analysis relies on the belief that the outcome is going to be favorable.

A contrast of both methods of analysis is seen. However, they are complimentary in their application. Positive analysis comes up with a scientific analysis of the problem, and the solutions are suggested and implemented by normative analysis. Positive analysis comes again after that in retrospect to evaluate whether the solutions had the desirable outcomes. Although a public policy can rely on one method of analysis, it is better to use both methods concurrently.



Rosen, H. S., & Gayer, T. (2013). Public Finance, (10th edition.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill/Irwin

Hill, C. J., & Lynn Jr, L. E. (2015). Public Management: Thinking and Acting in Three Dimensions. CQ Press.

Auyong, H. (2015). Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Singapore Productivity Challenge: part III. Retrieved from: http://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/research-centres/case-studies/economic-analysis/


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