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News and Working Papers

October 9, 2017

The Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis co-sponsored four events last month:

Benefit Cost Analysis: Advancing Analysis Workshop on September 7

The USDA Office of Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis (ORACBA) and the SBCA co-sponsored “Benefit Cost Analysis: Advancing Analysis Workshop” on September 7. The workshop consisted of four sessions of papers from the two most recent SBCA conferences that are especially relevant to the economists who develop regulatory impact analyses in support of rulemaking. The topics of the sessions ranged from specific analyses to support regulations (e.g., behavioral responses to health information and warnings), through valuation methods for informed decision making (e.g., applying VSL when persons choose risk or care about risks to others), and finally through retrospective benefit cost analyses of rules (e.g., retrospective review of DOE’s energy efficiency standards). The issues discussed were especially timely considering the new requirements of the Executive Order 13771. The workshop also served to introduce regulatory economists to the SBCA and its vast resources.

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September 18, 2017

Review by Donald S. Kenkel

Behavioral economics finds that under predictable circumstances people sometimes fail to act rationally and in their own best self-interest. In these circumstances, public policies can nudge people towards better choices. For example, people can be nudged to save more, smoke less, lose weight, and buy more energy efficient vehicles and appliances. In addition to providing new insights about how to design public policies (see Chetty 2015), behavioral economics also has implications for how we conduct benefit-cost analysis (BCA). After all, BCA is built on the foundation of neoclassical welfare economics and rationality. This topic has been explored over the years in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, notably in a March 2016 Special Issue on [Ir]rationality, Happiness, and Benefit-Cost Analysis

In his new book, "Behavioral Economics for Cost-Benefit Analysis" (Cambridge University Press, 2017), David L. Weimer (University of Wisconsin – Madison) pulls together the insights of behavioral economics to provide “useful guidance for those actually doing BCA.” Because behavioral economics has wide-ranging implications for almost any policy, members of the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis will very likely find Weimer’s book of interest. 

August 14, 2017

The SBCA is introducing a new feature, "On Balance: Perspectives from the Field." Short informative, practical, and timely articles relevant to BCA, written by prominent experts in the field, will be posted regularly here and on our website. The first of this series is below. Stay tuned for more details and articles!

New JBCA article offers practical guide for interpreting regulatory impact analysis

by Susan E. Dudley

In the United States and elsewhere, government agencies are required to conduct regulatory impact analyses (RIAs) to weigh the benefits of regulatory proposals against their costs. These RIAs are invaluable tools for informing decision makers about the effects of regulatory choices; even regulatory decisions that are ultimately made on political, legal, ethical, or other grounds will benefit from the structured evaluation of tradeoffs and alternatives that a good RIA provides.

However, dense or complex RIAs can be challenging for policy officials and interested parties to comprehend and interpret, making it difficult to evaluate the evidence presented and to understand the likely consequences of alternative policy choices.

August 14, 2017

The USDA Office of Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis (ORACBA) invites you to “Benefit Cost Analysis: Advancing Analysis Workshop”, co-sponsored by the Society for Benefit Cost Analysis (SBCA) on September 7th, 2017 from 9 am to 3:00 pm, at the USDA Whitten Building, Room 108A, 12th St. and Jefferson Dr., SW, Washington, D.C. 20024.

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August 9, 2017

Please join the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and the Administrative Conference of the United States for a discussion on “New Developments in Regulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis” on September 29 from 1:00 - 6:30 pm at the George Washington University School of Law.

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