Oct. 17, 2014: Presentation proposals due for 2015 Society Benefit-Cost Analysis conference

by , August 14, 2014

The Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis (SBCA) is accepting papers for its 2015 annual conference, “Advancing the Policy Frontier.”

Proposals are due Friday, October 17, 2014. Submissions may address the link between theory and practice, the methods used to estimate particular types of costs or benefits, the application of BCA to specific case studies, and the role of BCA in decision making.

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New from CBKB: “Using Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Policymaking”

by , April 10, 2014

Any number of investments can promote public safety, whether in law enforcement, corrections, community corrections—or even programs such as early childhood education. The critical question, though, is which choices produce the greatest benefits.

Increasingly, decision makers are turning to cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to help weigh their options. But justice-related cost-benefit studies can be complicated, technical, and hard to understand, making it easy for people to misinterpret their findings and overlook critical information that can aid their decisions.

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What do “smelly” spreadsheets have to do with cost-benefit analysis?

by , March 17, 2014

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.

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Six principles to help you with cost-benefit analysis

by , March 12, 2014

Last week we announced the release of a new CBKB white paper, Advancing the Quality of Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Programs. Analysts, researchers, analysts, and criminologists will find useful information about cost-benefit analysis (CBA) methods, evaluation techniques, and justice-specific applications of this technique.

Even if you don’t plan to dive into the details, take a look at these six principles that serve as the paper’s foundation:

  1. Cost-benefit analysis is a decision tool, not a decision rule.

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New from CBKB: “Advancing the Quality of Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Programs”

by , March 6, 2014

The demand for cost-benefit analyses (CBAs) of justice programs keeps growing, but the supply of high-quality studies has not kept pace. Analysts deal with a number of challenges, from acquiring good data to balancing the precision and accuracy of studies with their policy relevance.

CBKB’s new white paper, Advancing the Quality of Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Programs, was developed to help guide analysts through the methodological challenges of conducting justice-related CBAs, such as:

  • Selecting perspectives to include in justice-related CBAs;
  • Predicting and measuring the impacts of justice programs and policies;
  • Monetizing (placing dollar values on) those initiatives;
  • Dealing with uncertainty; and
  • Making cost-benefit studies clearer and more accessible.

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Show and tell: Estimating the value of public goods

by , July 26, 2012

This month on the blog we’re focusing on methods used in cost-benefit analysis (CBA).

In cost-benefit analysis, some benefits are considered intangible, such as the reduced risk of being a crime victim or the reduced fear of crime. CBAs of criminal justice policies sometimes require reliable estimates of the dollar value of these intangible benefits.

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An interview with Professor David Weimer on cost-benefit analysis methods and justice policy

David Weimer is the Edwin E. Witte Professor of Political Economy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs. He has written, edited, and taught extensively about using cost-benefit analysis in social policy. He is vice president of the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis and a member of CBKB’s working group on cost-benefit methods. As part of our focus this month on cost-benefit methods, we recently spoke with him about his work.

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Document for others as you would have others document for you

by , July 20, 2012

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.

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Who benefits and who bears the costs?

This month on the blog we’re focusing on methods used in cost-benefit analysis (CBA).

Last month, we asked “Whose benefits matter?” in a cost-benefit analysis (CBA). The answer is that the benefits of all stakeholders matter, because the objective of a CBA is to determine whether society as a whole would be better off by undertaking a specific project.

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July focus: Cost-benefit methods

by , July 2, 2012

This month on the blog we’re focusing on methods used in cost-benefit analysis (CBA).

Although there is growing interest in CBA among decision makers, applying CBAs to justice policymaking and planning has not yet met its potential. Defining the scope of justice-related CBAs; measuring the “non-market” prices of benefits from justice investments; balancing the precision and accuracy of studies with their policy relevance; and promoting comparability among studies are just a few of the methodological challenges facing analysts.

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