Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics

Publication Date


Publication Title

Law & Economics Working Papers


Cost-benefit analysis is analyzed using a model of agency delegation. In this model an agency observes the state of the world and issues a regulation, which the president may approve or reject. Cost-benefit analysis enables the president to observe the state of the world (in one version of the model), or is a signal that an agency may issue (in another version). The roles of the courts, Congress, and interest groups are also considered. It is argued that the introduction of cost-benefit analysis increases the amount of regulation, including the amount of regulation that fails cost-benefit analysis; that the president has no incentive to compel agencies to issue cost-benefit analysis, because agencies will do so when it is in the president’s interest, and otherwise will not do so; that presidents benefit from cost-benefit analysis even when they do not seek efficient policies; that agencies and their supporters ought to endorse cost-benefit analysis, not resist it; and that cost-benefit analysis reduces the influence of interest groups. Evidence for these claims is discussed. Finally, it is argued that courts should force agencies to conduct cost-benefit analyses in ordinary conditions, but that they should not force agencies to comply with them.



Additional Information

Chicago Unbound includes both works in progress and final versions of articles. Please be aware that a more recent version of this article may be available on Chicago Unbound, SSRN or elsewhere.

Included in

Law Commons