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Cost-Benefit Analysis

Enrollment is Closed

About This Unit:

Cost-benefit analysis helps policymakers assess which policy options will deliver positive social and economic returns. This unit reviews the fundamental concepts of costs and benefits, describes various methodologies to estimate both, and highlights common assumptions used in this decision-making framework.

This unit will help you:

  • Understand the role cost-benefit analyses can play in the policy decision-making process
  • Identify the relevant costs and benefits of a given policy
  • Understand how costs and benefits are aggregated into an overall measure of net benefits
  • Know what questions to ask to critically consume a cost-benefit analysis


  • Some familiarity with the policy realm
  • Some familiarity with basic statistics(comfort with basic math and familiarity with basic statistical terminology, like “mean” and “sample”)
  • Some familiarity with basic budgeting
  • English language proficiency

About Evidence for Policy Design

The Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School uses analytical insights, drawn from economics and backed by rigorous evidence, to inform the design and implementation of public policies and programs around the world. To learn more about EPoD, please visit us at and follow @EPoDHarvard on Twitter.

About Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE)

This unit was developed through the EPoD Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence: Data and Evidence for Smart Policy Design (BCURE) project, a multi-year engagement to build technical and institutional capacity to integrate data and research evidence into policy decision making, focusing on South Asia. The development of this unit was funded by UK aid from the UK government; however, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

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    Private enrollment, self-paced
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