Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Regulatory Cost-Benefit Analysis and Collective Action

A new, expanded, and improved draft of my paper of that title can be downloaded from SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This updated draft paper explores the significant role Regulatory Cost-Benefit Analysis (RCBA) plays in facilitating or impeding collective action. Through case studies, the paper shows that well-constructed RCBAs have (1) facilitated collective action (including in cases where explicit consideration of costs is legally prohibited) by muting political opposition; and (2) helped to obstruct welfare-reducing rules from being promulgated. RCBAs can of course be manipulated to obstruct social welfare-improving collective action or to promote inefficient policies. However, the fact that RCBAs require transparency makes those efforts liable to discovery and disclosure, as in the case of the Bush Administration's failed "Clear Skies" initiative. The paper concludes with an assessment of implications of the case studies for our understanding of the role of RCBA in the regulatory process, and with a call for more qualitative and quantitative empirical research on the use and abuse of RCBA as a political tool in legislative and regulatory processes.

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