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Investing in the Disadvantaged

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Social Policies

With budgets squeezed at every level of government, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) holds outstanding potential for assessing the efficiency of many programs. In this first book to address the application of CBA to social policy, experts examine ten of the most important policy domains: early childhood development, elementary and secondary schools, health care for the disadvantaged, mental illness, substance abuse and addiction, juvenile crime, prisoner reentry programs, housing assistance, work-incentive programs for the unemployed and employers, and welfare-to-work interventions. Each contributor discusses the applicability of CBA to actual programs, describing both proven and promising examples.

The editors provide an introduction to cost-benefit analysis, assess the programs described, and propose a research agenda for promoting its more widespread application in social policy. Investing in the Disadvantaged considers how to face America's most urgent social needs with shrinking resources, showing how CBA can be used to inform policy choices that produce social value.

About the Authors

David L. Weimer is professor of public affairs and political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a former president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Aidan R. Vining is CNABS Professor of Business and Government Relations at Simon Fraser University.

David L. Weimer and Aidan R. Vining are coauthors of Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice, now in its fourth edition.


"This book sets out ideas about the kinds of information that could and should be available when major social policy decisions are being made. But, more than that, it provides a broad review of what is available now and of what might be desired in the short and long run. The logic is compelling."—Eric Hanushek, senior fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

"This volume contributes to the new burst of interest in the topic of cost-benefit analysis, especially as applied to social policies. The editors have chosen outstanding authors, and their contributions are both enlightening and provocative. The book makes a major contribution toward furthering the application of sound analysis across [a] range of options."—Robert Haveman, professor, Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Provides an authoritative guide to evidence-based social policy by some of the leading scholars in the field. For anyone who wants to know what works, what's worthwhile, and what research would have the greatest payoff, this book has benefits far exceeding the cost."—Philip Cook, ITT/Sanford Professor of Public Policy, Duke University

9781589012578 : investing-in-the-disadvantaged-weimer-stegman-vining
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