Benefit-Cost Analysis in the Real World: Assessing Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulations

Study Group led by Lisa Robinson
Senior Fellow, M-RCBG
Spring 2013

To access study group readings, please go to:

Interested students should email Ms. Robinson at to join the group.

Schedule:Wednesdays, January 30 – March 13, 2013; 2:40 to 4:00 PM
Location:L-382 (Kahn classroom)
Summary:In the U.S. and an increasing number of other countries, government agencies are required to assess the costs, benefits, and other impacts of major regulations before they are promulgated. However, analysts face many difficult questions about how to best perform these assessments, given data gaps, limited time and resources, and changing policy goals. This study group will explore the conduct of these analyses, addressing their strengths as well as major controversies and areas in need of improvement. Students interested in preparing such assessments will develop a better understanding of how to best design and implement them; students interested in regulatory development and reform will improve their ability to interpret the information provided. Each session will begin with a brief introduction based on suggested readings, followed by discussion among the participants.
Bio:Lisa A. Robinson is a Senior Fellow in Kennedy School's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. She has 30 years of experience in assessing regulatory impacts, developing related methods, and drafting guidance. Much of her recent work focuses valuing improved health and longevity. She has also explored the implications of behavioral economics for the conduct of these analyses, and is now investigating options for enhancing the assessment of employment impacts and distributional effects. Ms. Robinson is also a Research Associate at the Harvard School of Public Health. She has worked at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and taught in the Harvard Economics Department and Center for the Environment. She was previously a Principal at Industrial Economics, Incorporated; the Director of Policy, Planning, and Budget for an independent federal agency; and an analyst at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. She received her Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.