Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, October 12, 2017

Weimer’s new book blends behavioral economics, cost-benefit analysis

Weimer’s new book blends behavioral economics, cost-benefit analysis

La Follette School Professor Dave Weimer has published a new book, Behavioral Economics for Cost-Benefit Analysis: Benefit Validity When Sovereign Consumers Seem to Make Mistakes. He has written, co-authored, or edited more than a dozen books, including two that have made important contributions to public policy education.

Weimer, the Edwin E. Witte Professor of Political Economy, is the author of Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice, and Cost-Benefit Analysis: Concepts and Practice. His latest book introduces the concept of benefit validity as a criterion for estimating benefits from observed or stated preference studies and provides practical guidelines to help analysts accommodate behavioral findings.

The book considers benefit validity in four areas: violations of expected utility theory, unexpectedly large differences between willingness to pay and willingness to accept, non-exponential discounting, and harmful addiction. In addition to its immediate value to practicing policy analysts, the book helps behavioral economists identify issues where their research programs can make practical contributions to better policy analysis.

A fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, Weimer served as president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management in 2006 and president of the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis in 2013. Earlier this year, he received the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s prestigious Hilldale Award in the Social Studies and the 2017 Excellence in Mentoring Award in the Field of Public Policy from the American Political Science Association.