Policy Forum

Is There a Role for Benefit-Cost Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation?

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Science  12 Apr 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5259, pp. 221-222
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5259.221


Benefit-cost analysis can play an important role in legislative and regulatory policy debates on protecting and improving health, safety, and the natural environment. Although formal benefit-cost analysis should not be viewed as either necessary or sufficient for designing sensible public policy, it can provide an exceptionally useful framework for consistently organizing disparate information, and in this way, it can greatly improve the process and, hence, the outcome of policy analysis. If properly done, benefit-cost analysis can be of great help to agencies participating in the development of environmental, health, and safety regulations, and it can likewise be useful in evaluating agency decision-making and in shaping statutes.