Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

PA 881: Cost-Benefit Analysis is an elective course for second-year master’s degree students at the La Follette School of Public Affairs. The course covers the basic concepts and techniques for estimating the social benefits and social costs of proposed public policies. Students work in teams on projects for clients, contributing to the University of Wisconsin–Madison's outreach mission and to the Wisconsin Idea.

The La Follette School of Public Affairs welcomes public, non-profit, or private sector organizations to apply to be clients for its Cost-Benefit Analysis course.

Client Projects

Potential clients are encouraged to contact Dave Weimer (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or, for projects with international focus, Emilia Tjernström (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) beginning in January for projects to be conducted during the following Fall semester. Usually the list of projects is finalized by early June.

Cost-benefit analysis requires prediction of the consequences of alternative policies. An important consideration in the selection of projects is the availability of evidence, whether from general research findings or data made available through clients. In general, the more information and input from the client, the more confident will be the estimates of net benefits produced by the student team.

Sample Projects

Potential clients may wish to view some examples of past projects to help determine the desirability of organizing a project. Syllabi for 2014, 2013, and 2012 provide brief descriptions of projects.