SPP/Economics 573: Benefit-Cost Analysis

Subject of the Course:

The aim of this course is to teach you how to do benefit-cost analysis. On one level, this is pretty simple: just sum all the benefits of a program, subtract all the costs, and there you are. If net benefits are positive, the program is a winner; if not, not. In choosing among programatic options, take the one with the highest level of net benefits.

But obviously there are complications. First, it is not always easy to measure benefits and costs -- you have to know some economics and perhaps even some philosophy. Second, bernefits and costs can occur at different times, and you have to adjust for that problem. Third, benefits and costs are received and borne by different people, and both the economics and the politics of dealing with distributional issues can get tricky. Fourth, there are many different types of programs for which an aspiring public servant might want to do a benefit-cost analysis. This list goes on, and it will easily fill a semester for us to cover it adequately.


SPP/Econ 555 or equivalent