In this special lecture, Professor Matt Adler argues that social welfare function is a better methodology than cost-benefit analysis.
Cost-benefit analysis has become the dominant methodology for assessing governmental policy. It has given rise to a vast academic literature, and is now officially required as part of the policymaking process in a number of governments. But cost-benefit analysis is flawed. It lacks firm normative foundations and is biased toward the rich. In this talk, I describe and defend a better approach: the social welfare function.