Latest Issue
Special Reports
Latest Special Report

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.”…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with our newsletter, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

More From Prospect