Chapter 5: Towards principles and standards for the benefit–cost analysis of safety
This chapter proposes principles and standards for benefit–cost analysis (BCA) that are of particular importance to public safety policies. Applied economists and policy analysts are often under pressure to deliver their analysis in a specified time frame subject to a particular budget (Committee to Evaluate Measures, 2006; DeMartino, 2011). In the US government and in some US states, analysts may be creating BCAs for which comparison of results across policies is desirable. Moreover, application of consistent standards for analysis facilitates public scrutiny of the economic basis for the policies. It is in such applied work where analytical principles and standards may facilitate producing analyses and encourage replicability, comparability, credibility, and usability. Our principles and standards provide a set of recommended best practices for the analysis of policies affecting public safety but do not necessarily reflect requirements that the analysis must meet. Public safety issues arise with respect to both privately marketed goods that affect the public and government policies that have a strong public good component, such as highway safety. Public safety concerns arise in a wide range of activities in general categories such as security, physical safety, natural hazards, environmental risks, public health, product safety, and employment hazards. Each of these areas of potential risk exposure has specific component risks such as those posed by crime, terrorism, food products, floods, and transportation.
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