2018 Annual Conference

Agenda & Abstracts

The Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis (SBCA) is an international group of practitioners, academics and others who are working to improve the theory and application of the tools of benefit-cost analysis.

Thank you to those who joined us at our Tenth Annual Conference! Slides from select presentations will be made available on our website here pending authors' permission.

Photos from the keynote address and conference are available on our Facebook page: Conference photos.

Workshop Committee:

  • Jennifer Baxter, Industrial Economics, Inc. (Chair)

  • Lynn Karoly, RAND Corporation

  • Don Kenkel, Cornell University

  • Steven Lize, The Pew Charitable Trusts

  • Lisa A. Robinson, Harvard University

  • Stuart Shapiro, Rutgers University

  • Aylin Sertkaya, Eastern Research Group 

  • Gary VanLandingham, Florida State University

Agenda & Abstracts

Wednesday, March 14

  • 8:00 9:00       Registration for full day and morning workshops

  • 9:00 12:30     Professional Development Workshops; AM Session

    • Retrospective Benefit-Cost Analysis

    • A Voice Crying in the Wilderness? Techniques for Promoting the Use of Evidence and BCA Results to Policymakers

  • 12:30 1:30     Lunch (provided for those registered for morning and afternoon sessions)

  • 1:00 1:30       Afternoon workshop registration

  • 1:30 5:00       Professional Development Workshops; PM Session

    • Valuing Changes in Health and Longevity in Benefit-Cost Analysis

  • 5:00 6:30       Opening Reception (registered workshop and conference participants, sponsored by  ExxonMobil)

Thursday, March 15

  • 8:00 9:00        Registration and Breakfast 

  • 9:00 10:30      Session 1

    • A1:   Hammitt Slides A.1

    • A1:   Neumann Slides A.1

    • A1:   Robinson Slides A.1 Intro,    Robinson Slides A.1

    • D1:   Brennan Slides D.1

  • 10:30 10:45    Break 

  • 10:45 12:15    Session 2

    • A2:   Gollier Slides A.2

    • B2:   Camm Slides B.2

    • E2:   Chizari Slides E.2

    • F2:   Mansour Slides F.2

    • G2:   Jin Slides G.2

  • 12:15 2:00      Keynote Luncheon and Keynote Address

  • 2:00 3:30        Session 3

    • C3   Giguere Slides C.3

    • E3   Kashi Slides E.3

    • E3   Bloomberg Slides E.3

  • 3:30 3:45        Break 

  • 3:45 5:15        Session 4

    • B4:   Tsui Slides B.4

    • D4:   Carter Slides D.4

    • D4:   Long Slides D.4

    • E4:   Acks Slides E.4

    • E4:   Breitbarth Slides E.4

    • G4:   Helfand Slides G.4

    • G4:   Huang Slides G.4

  • 5:30 7:30        Networking Reception 

Friday, March 16

  • 8:00 9:00        Registration and Breakfast 

  • 9:00 10:30      Session 5

    • B5:   Bromberg Slides B.5

    • C5:   Bos Slides C.5

    • C5:   Ruijs Slides C.5

    • E5:   Zomorodi Slides E.5

    • G5   Pasurka Slides pgs 1-5 G.5,   Pasurka Slides pgs 6-10 G.5,   Pasurka Slides pgs 11-15 G.5,   Pasurka Slides pgs 16-21 G.5

  • 10:30 10:45    Break

  • 10:45 12:15    Session 6-PLENARY

  • 12:15 2:00      Luncheon featuring Annual Meeting of the SBCA Membership (sponsored by the American Chemistry Council)

  • 2:00 3:30        Session 7

    • C7    Morales Olmos Slides C.7

    • C7    Mwebaze Slide C.7

  • 3:30 3:45        Break

  • 3:45 5:15        Session 8

    • A8:   Griffith Slides A.8

    • E8:    Lhermie Slides E.8

    • E8     Mwebaze Slides E.8

    • G8:   Schnare Slides G.8

  • 5:15 6:30        Closing Reception (sponsored by GW Regulatory Studies Center)

Workshop Offerings

Retrospective Benefit-Cost Analysis

Organizer: Jennifer Baxter, Industrial Economics, Incorporated


While prospective benefit-cost analysis is a well-established component of the regulatory development process in the United States and other developed economies, retrospective analysis is less commonly undertaken. Yet such analysis provides important insights into how to best improve existing regulations, as well as into how to improve the conduct of prospective analysis. Retrospective analysis is now strongly encouraged under Executive Order 13563 for significant federal regulations, and is increasingly advocated in many other policy contexts in the United States and internationally. Many presume that retrospective analysis is more accurate than prospective analysis, assuming that analysts can simply sum the incurred costs and benefits. In reality, retrospective analysis is very challenging and often highly uncertain. The most difficult step is disentangling the incremental effects of the policy from the effects of other factors that influence current conditions, so as to compare outcomes in the relevant setting with the policy against counterfactual (and hypothetical) outcomes in the same setting had the policy never been adopted.

This workshop brings together four leading experts with diverse perspectives to discuss both the institutional context for these analyses and their conduct. It is targeted on both those interested in conducting these analyses and those interested in better understanding the strengths and limitations of analyses they review. Prior to the workshop, participants will receive a list of optional readings. The workshop itself will consist of a series of presentations with ample time for discussion. There are no prerequisites or requirements for participation.

Preliminary Agenda (subject to change)

9:00 9:45

Introduction & Institutional Frameworks and Processes (Dr. Cary Coglianese, University of Pennsylvania)

9:45 - 10:30

Fundamentals of Conducting Retrospective Benefit-Cost Analysis (Jennifer Baxter, Industrial Economics, Incorporated)

10:30 - 10:45


10:45 11:30

Case Study #1: Air Pollution Regulation in Santiago, Chile (William Raich, Industrial Economics, Incorporated and Paulina Schulz, Ministry of the Environment, Chile

11:30 12:15

Case Study #2: Retrospective Analysis of U.S. Food and Drug Administration Regulations (Dr. Aliya Sassi and Dr. Matthew Parrett, U.S. FDA)

12:15 - 12:30

Wrap-up (Jennifer Baxter)

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness? Techniques for Promoting the Use of Evidence and BCA Results to Policymakers

Organizer: Steven Lize, The Pew Charitable Trusts


There are increasing calls for government officials to use benefit-cost analysis (BCA) and related forms of evidence to inform budget and policy decisions. Yet, as the intended consumers of BCA, policymakers are typically unfamiliar with the concepts, assumptions, and methods used to carry out these studies, which can cause confusion and/or dismissal of findings. It is thus critical for analysts to know how to present BCA findings and related evidence in a clear and convincing manner.  It is also vital for analysts to build effective long-term relationships to gain the trust of policymakers, and to help them devise policy levers that promote the ongoing use of BCA results and related evidence into the policy process. 

This workshop will train participants on ways to effectively bring BCA results and related evidence to government officials in the fast-paced policy process and to help build a culture of evidence use within the executive and legislative branches. The presenters bring decades of experience working with public leaders and their key staff as well as best practices gained from working with over state and local governments to promote evidence-based policymaking.

The topics will include effective modes of communicating complex findings to policymakers through presentations, reports, in-person briefings, and social media. It also includes effective approaches for building partnerships with policymakers and their key staff to gain the confidence and support of these key stakeholders, and discussion of proven mechanisms for promoting the use of BCA and rigorous evidence in the policy and budget processes.   This half-day workshop includes a mixture of lecture-style presentation, discussion, and hands-on problem solving. Participants are encouraged to bring samples of their work as well as practical questions to collaborate on with the facilitators.

Preliminary Agenda (subject to change)

9:00 - 9:15

Introductions, overview, housekeeping

9:15 - 9:45

Analytical tools for showing the bottom line

9:45 - 10:30

Techniques for communicating economic analyses and related evidence: Written reports and data visualization

10:30 - 10:45


10:45 - 11:30

Techniques for communicating economic analyses and related evidence: Formal presentations and In-person briefings

11:30 - 12:00

Building relationships with policymakers and key staff

12:00 - 12:30

Helping policymakers create a culture of evidence use in the decision process

Valuing Changes in Health and Longevity in Benefit-Cost Analysis

Organizer: Lisa A. Robinson, Harvard University

Additional Presenters: James K. Hammitt, Harvard University; Sandra Hoffmann, U.S. Department of Agriculture; David D. Kim, Tufts University.


Improved health and longevity are the major goals of many interventions and programs, and often account for the majority of the quantified benefits of environmental, health, and safety policies and regulations. Because these risk reductions are not directly bought and sold in the marketplace, economists have developed a range of methods to estimate their value, focusing on individuals' willingness to pay (WTP) for the benefits they receive. For fatal risk reductions, the primary challenge is determining how to best use the available valuation research. For nonfatal risk reductions, relatively little valuation research is available and the primary challenges relate to the use of proxy measures. These proxies include monetized estimates of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) or disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and estimates of the averted direct and indirect costs of illness (COI).

In this workshop, we will discuss the underlying concepts, the methods used for valuation, and the application of the results as well as related guidance. To the extent possible, we will focus on estimates applicable in the contexts of interest to workshop participants, discussing common defaults and practices in different countries and different policy areas. The workshop will combine presentations with substantial opportunities for discussion, and will include working through examples of the application of these values in specific contexts. Participants will develop a basic understanding of these measures and of their application.

Preliminary Agenda (subject to change)

1:30 - 2:00

Overview and General Framework (Lisa A. Robinson)

2:00 - 2:30

Valuing Fatal Risk Reductions (James K. Hammitt)

2:30 - 3:00

Valuing Nonfatal Risk Reductions (Lisa A. Robinson)

3:00 - 3:15


3:15 - 3:45

Estimating Quality-Adjusted Life Years and Disability-Adjusted Life Years (David D. Kim)

3:45 - 4:15

Estimating Averted Direct and Indirect Costs of Illness (Sandra Hoffmann)

4:15 - 5:00

Worked Examples and General Discussion