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The Discipline of Cost-Benefit Analysis

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  • Sen, Amartya

Abstract

Cost-benefit analysis is a general discipline, based on the use of some foundational principles, which are not altogether controversial, but have nevertheless considered plausibility. Divisiveness increases as various additional requirements are imposed. There is a trade-off here between easier usability (through locked-up formulae) and more general acceptability (through allowing parametric variations). The paper examines and scrutinizes the merits and demerits of these additional requirements. The particular variant of cost-benefit approach that is most commonly used now is, in fact, extraordinarily limited, because of its insistence on doing the valuation entirely through an analogy with the market mechanism. This admits only a narrow class of values, and demands that individuals be unconcerned about many substantial variations, ignored in the procedure of market valuation. The use, instead, of a general social choice approach can allow greater freedom of valuation and can also accommodate more informational inputs. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 29 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 931-52

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:29:y:2000:i:2:p:931-52

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Cited by:
  1. Öberg, Christina & Huge-Brodin, Maria & Björklund, Maria, 2012. "Applying a network level in environmental impact assessments," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 247-255.
  2. Kristina Mjörnell & Anna Boss & Markus Lindahl & Stefan Molnar, 2014. "A Tool to Evaluate Different Renovation Alternatives with Regard to Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(7), pages 4227-4245, July.
  3. De Brucker, Klaas & Macharis, Cathy & Verbeke, Alain, 2013. "Multi-criteria analysis and the resolution of sustainable development dilemmas: A stakeholder management approach," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 224(1), pages 122-131.
  4. Gabriel Leite Mota, 2007. "Why Should Happiness Have a Role in Welfare Economics? Happiness versus Orthodoxy and Capabilities," FEP Working Papers 253, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  5. Veisten, Knut, 2007. "Contingent valuation controversies: Philosophic debates about economic theory," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 204-232, April.
  6. Kant, Shashi & Lee, Susan, 2004. "A social choice approach to sustainable forest management: an analysis of multiple forest values in Northwestern Ontario," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3-4), pages 215-227, June.
  7. Soleri, Daniela & Cleveland, David A. & Glasgow, Garrett & Sweeney, Stuart H. & Cuevas, Flavio Aragón & Fuentes, Mario R. & Ríos L., Humberto, 2008. "Testing assumptions underlying economic research on transgenic food crops for Third World farmers: Evidence from Cuba, Guatemala and Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 667-682, November.
  8. Johansson-Stenman , Olof & Svedsäter, Henrik, 2003. "Self Image And Choice Experiments: Hypothetical And Actual Willingness To Pay," Working Papers in Economics 94, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  9. Mouter, Niek & Annema, Jan Anne & Wee, Bert van, 2013. "Attitudes towards the role of Cost–Benefit Analysis in the decision-making process for spatial-infrastructure projects: A Dutch case study," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1-14.
  10. Mouter, Niek & Annema, Jan Anne & van Wee, Bert, 2013. "Ranking the substantive problems in the Dutch Cost–Benefit Analysis practice," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 241-255.
  11. Seth D. Baum, 2012. "Value Typology in Cost-Benefit Analysis," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 21(4), pages 499-524, November.
  12. S. Scrieciu & Valerie Belton & Zaid Chalabi & Reinhard Mechler & Daniel Puig, 2014. "Advancing methodological thinking and practice for development-compatible climate policy planning," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 261-288, March.
  13. Hyard, Alexandra, 2012. "Cost-benefit analysis according to Sen: An application in the evaluation of transport infrastructures in France," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 707-719.
  14. Kim, Sang-Hoon, 2007. "Evaluation of negative environmental impacts of electricity generation: Neoclassical and institutional approaches," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 413-423, January.
  15. Elizabeth A. Stanton, 2012. "The Tragedy of Maldistribution: Climate, Sustainability, and Equity," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 394-411, March.
  16. Giuseppe Pennisi & Pasquale L. Scandizzo, 2006. "Economic Evaluation in the age of Uncertainty," CEIS Research Paper 86, Tor Vergata University, CEIS.

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