What is Benefit-Cost Analysis?

Benefit-cost analysis (BCA), also known as cost-benefit analysis, informs decision-making with specific types of information, namely measures in monetary terms of willingness to pay for a change by those who will benefit from it as well as of the willingness to accept the change by those who will not benefit. The use of monetary terms provides a common metric. Its purpose is not to price everything, but rather to order choices in a way that informs decision-makers about social factors.

About the Benefit-Cost Analysis Center

The BCAC is currently inactive, but our work continues through the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis as linked below.

Supported by the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Benefit-Cost Analysis Center aimed to improve the understanding and use of benefit-cost analysis (BCA) as a decision-making tool. Our research and outreach was geared toward:

  • Improving and standardizing benefit-cost analysis methodology
  • Strengthening relationships between institutions that use it
  • Disseminating information about its use and misuse
  • Expanding its use when appropriate

We accomplished this by supporting the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis, convening with a variety of government agencies and academic professionals who use benefit-cost analysis in their work, and publishing academic papers on benefit-cost analysis methodology.

Our Team

Director & Founder: Richard O. Zerbe, Jr., Professor Emeritus (Read a 2009 Interview with Professor Zerbe

Staff: Erika Dowd, Executive Director, Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis

Affiliated Faculty: Ann Bostrom ; Joseph H. CookAlison CullenRobert D. Plotnick

Contact Us

Mailing Address
Benefit-Cost Analysis Center
Evans School of Public Policy & Governance
University of Washington
Box 353055
Parrington Hall, Room 226
Seattle, WA 98195-3055
Phone: 206.616.4090
Email: bcac@uw.edu