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The price of everything: what people get wrong about cost-benefit analysis

Far from leading to better results, cost-benefit analysis too often provides a bogus rationale for bad decisions

By John Kay   April 2019

John Kay on the uses and abuses of cost-benefit analysis. Photo: Prospect composite

Is cost-benefit analysis a useful tool of policy that has transformed the quality of public decision-making? Or is it a pseudo-scientific cover for irrational decisions?

The Trump moment is an unfortunate time for Cass Sunstein, the distinguished American constitutional lawyer, to publish a treatise arguing in favour of the first proposition. In the last 50 years, he explains, the United States has undergone a revolution. “No gun was fired. No lives were lost… Nonetheless, it happened.”…

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