The nongovernmental organization New Economy, in partnership with the UK government, recently released a database of more than 600 cost estimates. This unit cost database—available at the Centre for Social Impact Bonds—covers crime, education and skills, employment and economy, fire, health, housing, and social services. Most are national costs derived from government reports and academic studies.
Our new white paper, Advancing the Quality of Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Programs, recommends a few ways to make cost-benefit studies clearer and more accessible. To paraphrase the Golden Rule, you should provide as much documentation for others as you would want them to provide you:
- Be explicit about which costs and benefits the analysis includes.
This month on the blog we’re focusing on methods used in cost-benefit analysis (CBA).
Cost-benefit analysts typically need to convey complex information succinctly to policymakers and may have reservations about bogging down readers with too much technical detail.
But a cost-benefit study without thorough documentation presents its own set of problems.