GLHLTH 531: Economic Analysis and Evaluation for Public Health and Environment

Course Overview

Economic analysis, or cost-benefit analysis (CBA), is an important tool for conducting public policy assessments. In simple terms, its purpose is to identify and catalog the impacts of potential projects, to quantify those impacts, and finally to convert them into money terms such that their net benefits can be determined. Since the public sector is often involved in setting health and environmental policy, this course will focus on teh use and application of CBA in those areas (and also implications for analysis of social policies). It will cover topics such as the economic rationale for CBA, basic principles for assessing the economic effects of projects, techniques, for valuing health and environmental impacts, intergenerational and philosophical concerns as they relate to CBA, social discounting, risk and uncertainty. We will also compare CBA with alternative commonly-used approaches, such as cost effectiveness or multi-atrribute analyses.

Course Objectives

Student leanring in the course will be targeted to achieve proficiency in the following specific areas:

  • Understanding of the welfare-theoretic underpinnings of CBA
  • Knowledge of the ways in wh8ich economic and financial analysis differ, and the consequences of that divergence for public policy;
  • Operational understanding of how to conduct CBA in real world health and environmental assessments;
  • Critical assessment of common objections to the use of CBA, both practical and philosophical, and careful consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of alternative decision-making criteria;
  • A well thought-out research project that may involve carrying out a CBA applied to a specific problem of interest to the student, or may represent a more in-depth study of a general issue or theme discussed during the course.

ECONANAL Syllabus_Fall2014_final