Three Stages in the Evolution of Cost-Benefit Analysis as a Tool to Evaluate Regulation

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Prof. Richard Revesz, NYU Law SchoolMax Weber Lecture with Prof. Richard Revesz, NYU Law School,
20 June 2012, 17.00, Villa La Fonte, Conference Room

Richard Revesz will be introcuded by ruth Rubio Marin, Law Department, EUI and the session will be chaired by Andrea Wechsler, Max Weber Fellow, EUI.


Over the last thirty years a three-stage evolution has taken place in American politics with regard to the use of cost-benefit analysis as a tool for evaluating regulation.

During that time, the appeal of cost-benefit analysis has shifted from one side of the aisle to the other. In the first stage, in the early 1980s, the Republican Party adopted cost-benefit analysis as a way of constraining regulation.

Many progressive groups fought back by rejecting cost-benefit analysis altogether. Several years ago, in a second stage, some progressive groups finally started to speak the language of cost-benefit analysis and it looked like a consensus approach might emerge.

But the economic crisis of 2008 has led the way to a third stage in which conservatives, who began to realize that cost-benefit analysis could justify stringent regulation, reframed the debate to one about jobs.

The essay argues that, despite pleas to abandon the technique, cost-benefit analysis has proven robust, in part because it provides a common ground where all interests are given weight

All welcome to attend – for logistical purposes, please register with Susan Garvin