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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Benefit-cost analysis (BCA), or cost-benefit analysis, is important in policy and law. This article introduces the nature and history of BCA to provide an understanding of the development of the benefit-cost concepts, objections to the concepts, and their actual use in legal and economic practice. The term ‘benefit-cost’ is used to differentiate from the term ‘cost-benefit’ used by engineers whose approach is more mechanical than terms of efficiency used in law and economics. BCA is seen as a useful tool with some positive predictive ability in determining judge's decisions. It also appears to contribute to greater efficiency in government investment spending.

Keywords: benefit-cost analysis, law, economics, legal practice, economic practice

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