The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

853. Cass R. Sunstein, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Who's Your Daddy?, 02/2016; forthcoming in Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis.

Abstract: If policymakers could measure the actual welfare effects of regulations, and if they had a properly capacious sense of welfare, they would not need to resort to cost-benefit analysis, which gives undue weight to some values and insufficient weight to others. Surveys of self-reported well-being provide valuable information, but it is not yet possible to “map” regulatory consequences onto well-being scales. It follows that at the present time, self-reported well-being cannot be used to assess the welfare effects of regulations. Nonetheless, greatly improved understandings are inevitable, and current findings with respect to reported well-being--above all the serious adverse effects of unemployment--deserve to play a role in regulatory policymaking.

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