Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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p. ix

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Foreword

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pp. xi-xiii

Congratulations to David L. Weimer and Aidan R. Vining and their expert contributors for creating such an incisive and critical review of the use of cost- benefit analysis in the making and evaluation of social policies. The editors’ critical essays and accompanying literature reviews present a comprehensive picture of the state of the art across a wide range of policy domains, a valuable discussion of methodological challenges, and ...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xvi

As researchers seeking to contribute to better public policy, we have long had an interest in promoting cost- benefit analysis (CBA). Our graduate school days coincided with the end of its first wave of use, which was primarily in assessing proposed infrastructure projects. In the years that followed, we witnessed a second wave, which applied it to rulemaking by federal agencies in response to presidential orders during the Reagan and ...

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1 Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Social Policies

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pp. 1-16

If everyone started life healthy in supportive families and communities, the scope of social policy would be fairly narrow. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world. Not everyone starts life with physical and mental health, and unfortunate events can take good health from those who do. Not all families provide enough support to enable children to gain educations that prepare them well for effective participation in labor markets. ...

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2 Early Childhood Interventions

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pp. 17-29

In recent years, interest in early childhood intervention programs has been rising. Childhood has long been recognized as an important period in the development of individuals as healthy, productive, and socially active members of society. Researchers have begun to understand that in many cases, earlier is better. Young children, especially age five and younger, who are exposed to positive experiences appear to fare better than their ...

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3 Elementary and Secondary Schooling

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pp. 31-48

Education is an important component of human capital. Here I draw on the wealth of literature in the economics of education to consider public policy from the perspective of the costs and benefits of incremental investments in primary and secondary education. I first identify the additional investments perceived to be socially desirable and off er a general evaluation of the evidence for them. I then divide them into three types— policies, programs, and ...

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4 Health Care for Disadvantaged Populations

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pp. 49-65

Health is a fundamental part of being a productive human being. “Economists regard expenditures on education, training, medical care, and so on as investments in human capital,” Gary Becker notes. “They are called human capital because people cannot be separated from their knowledge, skills, health, or values in the way they can be separated from their financial and physical assets” (2002, para II.3.2). As the saying goes, even if ...

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5 Adults with Serious Mental Illnesses

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pp. 67-82

Serious mental illnesses (schizophrenia- spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, and major depression) affect approximately 15 million to 21 million Americans (5 to 7 percent of the U.S. population) and are the leading cause of disability in the United States, Canada, and western Europe. The World Health Organization found that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression account for 25 percent of all disability worldwide and are ...

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6 Illicit Substance Abuse and Addiction

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pp. 83-102

In this chapter I provide a framework for understanding what is known, what is not known, and what could or should be known about the performance of various illicit drug control interventions from a social planner’s return on taxpayer investment perspective. Because the scope of this task is ambitious, all topics must necessarily be covered briefly, with the value in the integrated view of the forest, not the details about any of ...

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7 Juvenile Crime Interventions

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pp. 103-126

Economic analysis is increasingly influential in studies of juvenile justice policies and programs. The economic perspective considers the monetized costs and benefits of policies and programs designed to reduce juvenile crime. In other words, do the benefits of implementing a policy or program for juvenile offenders outweigh the costs? What are the costs and benefits of expanding rehabilitation and are they measurable? What are the ...

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8 Prisoner Reentry Programming

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pp. 127-150

In 2006, about 700,000 prisoners were released from state and federal prisons across the country, more than four times as many as were released in 1980. With the exception of those who die while in prison, all prisoners will eventually reenter the community. Prisoner reentry has sweeping consequences for the individual prisoners, their families, and the communities to which they return (Petersilia 2003; Travis 2005). Advocates for expanded ...

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9 Housing Assistance to Promote Human Capital

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pp. 151-161

Human capital—the skills, habits, and knowledge that allow one to command remuneration in a market economy—is increasingly recognized as critical in determining an individual’s life chances. For that reason, investing in human capital has come to be recognized as one of the best ways for individuals and societies alike to achieve upward mobility and economic prosperity. When policymakers, social scientists, and other informed observers think ...

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10 Encouraging Work

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pp. 163-185

Work plays a central role in achieving a healthy standard of living and in making use of one’s abilities (Sen 1992). In the United States, by the standards of other developed countries, the overall employed share of the adult population is high and the aggregate unemployment rate is low. In 2007, the unemployment rate averaged 4.6 percent, well below the 7.1 percent rate for OECD Europe. Of the largest European countries, only the ...

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11 Next Steps in Welfare-to-Work

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pp. 187-204

Welfare- to- work policies seek to build human capital by encouraging and facilitating participation in labor markets. Effective policies not only increase income but also generally raise the return to additional human capital investment. What are possibly effective policies? How can we know if they would be effective? How do we know if they are desirable? ...

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12 Welfare-to-Work and Work-Incentive Programs

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pp. 205-217

Numerous welfare- to- work programs—that is, programs that use some combination of structured job search, education, vocational training, work experience, and financial work incentives to increase employment among welfare recipients—have been subjected to cost- benefit analysis (CBA). Government- funded training programs for disadvantaged workers (both welfare recipients and nonrecipients) have also oft en been the subject of CBAs. One possible reason for frequently ...

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13 Overview of the State-of-the-Art of CBA in Social Policy

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pp. 219-248

How frequently and how well is cost- benefit analysis (CBA) used to assess the desirability of social policy interventions? In the foregoing chapters, the substantive experts contributing to this volume have identified many of the important CBAs in their fields. To provide a comprehensive assessment, we supplemented their reviews by searching for additional reasonably available CBAs in the ten policy areas. Based on our own reviews ...

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14 An Agenda for Promoting and Improving the Use of CBA in Social Policy

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pp. 249-271

A variety of limitations—institutional, conceptual, and practical—hinder the widespread application of CBA to social policy. Promoting wider use means finding ways of loosening these constraints. Here we set out a research agenda for this project. It is both a general call to researchers and a suggestion to foundations, like the MacArthur Foundation, which sponsored their research, of how to invest their resources if they wish to ...

List of Contributors

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pp. 273-275

Index

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pp. 277-288