Several scholars are highly skeptical of the use of cost-benefit analysis and other economic tools in regulatory decision making. Recently, these critics have focused on debunking economic summaries of regulatory activity, sometimes referred to as regulatory scorecards. The critics generally support less quantitative economic analysis of regulations.
This monograph addresses the analytical concerns raised by the critics. It makes four points: First, summary measures of the impact of regulations have made important contributions to our understanding of the regulatory process, a point often overlooked by the critics; second, many of the critics’ concerns could be addressed by making refinements to scorecards rather than wholly rejecting them as an analytical tool; third, some of the suggestions made by the critics are legitimate but many are not; and finally, the solution to legitimate concerns raised by the critics is not to eliminate quantitative economic analysis but to gain a deeper understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and to use it wisely.
Robert W. Hahn is cofounder and executive director of the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies and a resident scholar at AEI.