Table of Contents

Handbook of Regulatory Impact Assessment

Handbook of Regulatory Impact Assessment

Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series

Edited by Claire A. Dunlop and Claudio M. Radaelli

This comparative Handbook provides a pioneering and comprehensive account of regulatory impact assessment – the main instrument used by governments and regulators to appraise the likely effects of their policy proposals. Renowned international scholars and practitioners describe the substance of impact assessment, situating it in its proper theoretical traditions and scrutinizing its usage across countries, policy sectors, and policy instruments. The Handbook of Regulatory Impact Assessment will undoubtedly be of great value to practitioners and also scholars with its wealth of detail and lessons to be learned.

Chapter 6: Towards a simpler and practical approach

Scott Jacobs

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance


Over 60 countries have adopted various forms of impact assessment (IA) as a mandatory step in developing new legal norms. Yet, in country after country, IA does not quantify enough impacts, does not define problems using market principles and does not rigorously examine or compare a range of possible solutions. Quantification of benefits is a problem affecting the majority of IAs in many countries. The national ritual of adopting an IA mandate without actually producing anything that can properly be called IA is depressingly familiar. This chapter asks ‘why?’ and focuses on a neglected but critical topic for those proposing the IA approach: the classic IA method itself. Intrinsic barriers to implementation are created by classic methods as they are transferred to ‘new’ IA countries. This chapter argues that the classic IA method is still poorly defined, unduly academic for many countries and has not yet evolved into the practical approach needed for day-to-day implementation in real-life policy scenarios characterized by low skills, inadequate time and poor access to data. In other words, we have not yet developed an IA method that, for most countries, can be practically mainstreamed for the production of relevant and timely policy analysis.

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