Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Democratic Ideal
AbstractIn traditional cost-benefit analyses of public projects, every citizen’s willingness to pay for a project is given an equal weight. This is sometimes taken to imply that cost-benefit analysis is a democratic method for making public decisions, as opposed to, for example, political processes involving log-rolling and lobbying from interest groups. Politicians are frequently criticized for not putting enough emphasis on the cost-benefit analyses when making decisions. In this paper we discuss the extent to which using cost-benefit analysis to rank public projects is consistent with Dahl’s (1989) criteria for democratic decision-making. We find several fundamental conflicts, both when cost-benefit analysis is used to provide final answers about projects’ social desirability, and when used only as informational input to a political process. Our conclusions are illustrated using data from interviews with Norwegian politicians.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Nordic Journal of Political Economy in its journal Nordic Journal of Political Economy.
Volume (Year): 26 (2000)
Issue (Month): ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.nopecjournal.org
Other versions of this item:
- A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
- D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Brekke, Kjell Arne, 1997. "The numeraire matters in cost-benefit analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 117-123, April.
- Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Straightforward Individual Incentive Compatibility in Large Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 263-82, April.
- Karine Nyborg, 1996. "The Political Man and Contingent Valuation: Motives Do Count," Discussion Papers 180, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
- Dreze, Jean & Stern, Nicholas, 1987. "The theory of cost-benefit analysis," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 14, pages 909-989 Elsevier.
- Karine Nyborg, 1996.
"Some Norwegian Politicians' Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis,"
169, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
- Nyborg, Karine, 1998. " Some Norwegian Politicians' Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(3-4), pages 381-401, June.
- Kjell Brekke & Hilde Lurå & Karine Nyborg, 1996. "Allowing disagreement in evaluations of social welfare," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 63(3), pages 303-324, October.
- Fridstrom, Lasse & Elvik, Rune, 1997. " The Barely Revealed Preference behind Road Investment Priorities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 92(1-2), pages 145-68, July.
- Nyborg, Karine, 2000. "Project analysis as input to public debate: Environmental valuation versus physical unit indicators," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 393-408, September.
- Susanne Menzel & Tom L. Green, 2013. "Sovereign Citizens and Constrained Consumers: Why Sustainability Requires Limits on Choice," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 22(1), pages 59-79, February.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Halvor Mehlum).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.