News

Inside SBCA

 June 8, 2018 

By Kerry Krutilla 

It is challenging to explain benefit-cost analysis (BCA) to the general public or to members of other professions lacking sufficient knowledge of—and appreciation for—applied microeconomics. This post discusses the nature of this challenge, and raises the question: should the SBCA develop a more concerted communications strategy to better explain the fundamental concepts of the discipline and their practical application?

May 25, 2018

Review by James K. Hammitt

Pricing Lives: Guideposts for a Safer Society  (Princeton University Press, 2018) is a tour de force. It provides an entertaining, accessible account of the modern approach to valuing mortality risk. In non-technical prose, it covers the major aspects of the approach and how it should be applied to social decisions.  It shows how US regulatory agencies’ adoption of the ‘value per statistical life’ (VSL) to replace the ‘cost of death’ (i.e., human capital) approach has led to more-protective regulation and argues the VSL approach should be extended beyond regulation, to private-sector decisions about product design and to government sanctions for regulatory violations. It also finds that the values used outside the US are typically far too small; revising these upward would lead to more-protective and more-appropriate regulation in other countries.

 

Friday, May 11, 2018

By Dan Hudson

I am a Reliability Engineer and Risk Analyst for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission  (USNRC). The USNRC is the Federal agency responsible for licensing and regulating civilian uses of nuclear materials to ensure public health and safety are adequately protected. In addition to performing risk analyses of commercial nuclear power plants, I contribute to an ongoing effort to enhance the USNRC’s guidelines for performing benefit-cost analysis (BCA) to evaluate proposed regulatory actions.

Report from the SBCA President on the 2018 Annual Conference and The Plenary Presentation by Tomas Philipson

By Don Kenkel

It was my honor to preside over the 2018 Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis (SBCA) Conference  held March 14 – 16 at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. I am happy to report that by all indications it was another successful conference. We had 319 total registrants from 19 countries across 5 continents. U.S. participants represented 31 states and D.C. Half of all participants were affiliated with the U.S. federal government. The next largest group were academics (almost one-third); other attendees were from the private sector or from state and international government agencies. The three pre-conference professional development workshops were well attended and also drew a mix of participants from federal, state, and international agencies, as well as academics.

 April 26, 2018

By Henrik Andersson 

Despite the obvious attraction of Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) for policy evaluation, its implementation rate varies across countries and sectors.  Although the concept of BCA can be traced back to European thinkers, it was first applied in the United States. The evaluation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ of the U.S. Flood Control Act of 1936 is often regarded as the first use of BCA, but President Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12291 issued in 1981 provided considerable impetus to its use in the United States. Although perceptions of BCA as anti-regulatory caused some adversaries of BCA to argue for its elimination in policy making, BCA is now viewed also as a tool to promote regulation.

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