Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 57–70 | Cite as

From scholarly idea to budgetary institution: the emergence of cost-benefit analysis

  • Michael D. Makowsky
  • Richard E. WagnerEmail author
Original Paper


Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) is typically portrayed as a technique for promoting efficiency in government. We don’t deny that CBA can be used in this manner, but instead focus on a different property of CBA, namely, its evolution from scholarly musings into a framing institution within which budgetary processes operate. The evolution of CBA into institutional status, moreover, shows the value of bringing a polyarchical perspective to bear on fiscal organization, wherein budgetary outcomes emerge through structured interaction among participants. CBA is a product of interaction within a political ecology, as distinct from being the product of some person’s optimizing choice.


Emergence of institutions Cost-benefit analysis Agenda setting Polycentrism 

JEL Classification

D02 D23 D61 D78 H11 H83 P16 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Towson UniversityTowson USA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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