Benefit-Cost Analysis of Environmental Projects: A Plethora of Systematic Biases
AbstractThere are many reasons to suspect that benefit-cost analysis applied to environmental policies will result in policy decisions that will reject those environmental policies. The important question, of course, is whether those rejections are based on proper science. The present paper explores sources of bias in the methods used to evaluate environmental policy in the United States, although most of the arguments translate immediately to decision-making in other countries. There are some “big picture” considerations that have gone unrecognized, and there are numerous more minor, yet cumulatively important, technical details that point to potentially large biases against acceptance on benefit-cost grounds of environmental policies that have true marginal benefits greater than true marginal costs, both in net present value terms. It is hoped that the issues raised here will improve future conduct of benefit-cost analyses of environmental policies.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3144.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
benefit-cost analysis; environmental policy; decision making; choice behavior; public goods; willingness-to-pay; willingness-to-accept; precautionary principle; hedonic methods; sum of specific damages; health effects model; environmental perceptions;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
- D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
- D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
- D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
- H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
- H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
- H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
- Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General
- Q30 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - General
- Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
- Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
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