Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Environment

Fall 2014 quarter

Taught by

economics, political economy, statistics

Major regulations and public projects now require cost-benefit analysis.  This program takes a close look the methodology of Cost-Benefit Analyses (CBAs), with an emphasis on controversial topics that arise in environmental applications.  Should monetary values for life, health and ecosystem services be calculated and weighed against the monetary costs of environmental and health regulations?  Should impacts expected to be felt by future generations be discounted to much lower present values today?  How should uncertainty and complexity be incorporated into projected costs and benefits? Should CBAs address the distributional impacts of policies and projects on different groups of stakeholders?  These and other questions will be addressed theoretically and through the use of case studies, with a particular focus on the costs and benefits of actions to combat climate change.

Faculty Biography
Peter Dorman, Ph.D., is an economist with a background in environmental and public health policy, data analysis, and political economy.  He completed a doctoral thesis at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he examined the use of occupational safety and health data to impute monetary values for risk of death in cost-benefit analysis; this work was eventually published as a book by Cambridge University Press, Markets and Mortality: Economics, Dangerous Work and the Value of Human Life.  Over the following two decades he has continued research into the economics of occupational health, focusing especially on child laborers in both the US and developing countries.  Much of this work was supported by the International Labor Organization, for whom he has also recently completed a study on the global economics of AIDS.  He has worked as a consultant on carbon policy for environmental advocacy groups and has written and spoken widely on strategies to mitigate climate change.  He has also written on various aspects of economic theory, including welfare economics, the theory of the firm, and international political economy.  In Summer 2014, his introductory economics textbooks in macro- and microeconomics were published by Springer.

Program Details

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Evening

Advertised schedule: 6-10p Mon


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Undergraduate Credit Option

Requires Faculty Approval

Registration Information

Credits: 4 (Fall)

Class standing: Graduate

Maximum enrollment: 15


Course Reference Number

(4 GR credits): 10215

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