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  • Published: 28 August 2018
  • ISBN: 9780262038140
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $40.00

The Cost-Benefit Revolution




Why policies should be based on careful consideration of their costs and benefits rather than on intuition, popular opinion, interest groups, and anecdotes.Opinions on government policies vary widely. Some people feel passionately about the child obesity epidemic and support government regulation of sugary drinks. Others argue that people should be able to eat and drink whatever they like. Some people are alarmed about climate change and favor aggressive government intervention. Others don't feel the need for any sort of climate regulation. In The Cost-Benefit Revolution, Cass Sunstein argues our major disagreements really involve facts, not values. It follows that government policy should not be based on public opinion, intuitions, or pressure from interest groups, but on numbers—meaning careful consideration of costs and benefits. Will a policy save one life, or one thousand lives? Will it impose costs on consumers, and if so, will the costs be high or negligible? Will it hurt workers and small businesses, and, if so, precisely how much?As the Obama administration's “regulatory czar,” Sunstein knows his subject in both theory and practice. Drawing on behavioral economics and his well-known emphasis on “nudging,” he celebrates the cost-benefit revolution in policy making, tracing its defining moments in the Reagan, Clinton, and Obama administrations (and pondering its uncertain future in the Trump administration). He acknowledges that public officials often lack information about costs and benefits, and outlines state-of-the-art techniques for acquiring that information. Policies should make people's lives better. Quantitative cost-benefit analysis, Sunstein argues, is the best available method for making this happen—even if, in the future, new measures of human well-being, also explored in this book, may be better still.

  • Published: 28 August 2018
  • ISBN: 9780262038140
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $40.00

About the author

Cass R Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein specializes in constitutional law, regulatory policy, and economic analysis of law. In the academic world, he is by far the most cited law professor in the United States. He has also written for many popular newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The American Prospect, Time, Harpers, and The New Republic. He has also appeared on many national television and radio shows, including Nightline, Fox News, the ABC Evening News, the NBC Evening News, 20/20, the News Hour, The O'Reilly Factor, and Fresh Air.

Sunstein graduated in 1975 from Harvard College and in 1978 from Harvard Law School magna cum laude. After graduation, he clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. Before joining the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School, he worked as an attorney-advisor in the Office of the Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations, including Ukraine, Poland, China, South Africa, and Russia. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Mr. Sunstein has been Samuel Rubin Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia, visiting professor of law at Harvard, vice-chair of the ABA Committee on Separation of Powers and Governmental Organizations, chair of the Administrative Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, a member of the ABA Committee on the future of the FTC, and a member of the President's Advisory Committee on the Public Service Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters.

Mr. Sunstein is author of many articles and a number of books, including Republic.com (2001), Risk and Reason (2002), The Cost-Benefit State (2002), Why Societies Need Dissent (2003), The Second Bill of Rights (2004), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005), and Worst-Case Scenarios (2007). He is now working on various projects involving the relationship between law and human behavior

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