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Forecasting the socio-economic impact of the Large Hadron Collider: A cost–benefit analysis to 2025 and beyond

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  • Florio, Massimo
  • Forte, Stefano
  • Sirtori, Emanuela

Abstract

In this paper we develop a cost–benefit analysis of a major research infrastructure, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the highest-energy accelerator in the world, currently operating at CERN. We show that the evaluation of benefits can be made quantitative by estimating their welfare effects on different types of agents. Four classes of direct benefits are identified, according to the main social groups involved: (a) scientists; (b) students and young researchers; (c) firms in the procurement chain and other organizations; and (d) the general public, including onsite and website visitors and other media users. These benefits are respectively related to the knowledge output of scientists; human capital formation; technological spillovers; and direct cultural effects for the general public. Welfare effects for taxpayers can also be estimated by the contingent valuation of the willingness to pay for a pure public good for which there is no specific direct use (i.e., as non-use value). Using a Monte Carlo approach, we estimate the conditional probability distribution of costs and benefits for the LHC from 1993 until its planned decommissioning in 2025, assuming a range of values for some critical stochastic variables. We conservatively estimate that there is around a 90% probability that benefits exceed costs, with an expected net present value of about 2.9 billion euro, not considering the unpredictable applications of scientific discovery.

Suggested Citation

  • Florio, Massimo & Forte, Stefano & Sirtori, Emanuela, 2016. "Forecasting the socio-economic impact of the Large Hadron Collider: A cost–benefit analysis to 2025 and beyond," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 38-53.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:tefoso:v:112:y:2016:i:c:p:38-53
    DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2016.03.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tiziano CAMPORESI & Gelsomina CATALANO & Massimo FLORIO & Francesco GIFFONI, 2016. "A Professional Premium for LHC Students: Perceptions from within," Departmental Working Papers 2016-07, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano, revised 08 Jun 2016.
    2. Massimo FLORIO & Francesco GIFFONI, 2017. "Willingness-to-Pay for Science as a Public Good: A Contingent Valuation Experiment," Departmental Working Papers 2017-17, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    3. Castelnovo, Paolo & Florio, Massimo & Forte, Stefano & Rossi, Lucio & Sirtori, Emanuela, 2018. "The economic impact of technological procurement for large-scale research infrastructures: Evidence from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(9), pages 1853-1867.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cost–benefit analysis; Large Hadron Collider; Technological change; Human capital;

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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