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regulatory oversight, regulatory impact assessment, benefit-cost analysis, hybridization, risk management


The idea of cost-benefit analysis has been spreading internationally for centuries — at least since an American named Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter in 1772 to his British friend, Joseph Priestley, recommending that Priestley weigh the pros and cons of a difficult decision in what Franklin dubbed a “moral or prudential algebra” (Franklin 1772) (more on this letter below). Several recent studies show that the use of benefit-cost analysis (BCA), for both public projects and public regulation of private activities, is now unfolding in countries on every habitable continent around the world (Livermore and Revesz 2013; Quah and Toh 2012; De Francesco 2012; Livermore 2011; Cordova-Novion and Jacobzone 2011). This global diffusion of BCA is intermingled with the global diffusion of regulatory capitalism, in which privatized market actors are supervised by expert regulatory agencies (Levi-Faur 2005; Simmons et al. 2008), and with the international spread of ex ante regulatory precautions to anticipate and prevent risks despite uncertainty (Wiener et al. 2011).