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Interpreting Cost-Benefit Analyses Application

Criminal Justice Research 6216 

Application: Interpreting Cost-Benefit Analyses

Cost-benefit analyses are designed to do just what their name implies—weigh the costs and benefits of a program or policy. This is important because, in a world of finite resources, people want to make sure that funds are allocated to programs that are as financially efficient as possible, thereby maximizing the impact of each dollar. As mentioned in this week’s Discussion, cost-benefit analysis is a type of program evaluation. To use this type of analysis, researchers weigh costs and benefits in economic terms, in other words, analysts must determine what the costs and benefits of a program or policy are (i.e., the variables) and assign monetary values to these variables. It sounds easy enough but can sometimes be complicated when non-economic costs and benefits (e.g., enhanced neighborhood beauty, psychological damage caused by a crime, or job satisfaction) must be assigned a monetary value. It is important to note that cost-benefit analysis differs from cost-effectiveness analysis in that the latter compares program costs to program outcomes.For this Application Assignment, you evaluate the cost-benefit analysis of the program presented in the article, “A Cost-Benefit Study of a Breaking the Cycle Program for Juveniles.” As you examine the study, locate the key variables and consider the findings. Then consider whether you would continue or discontinue the program, based on the evidence presented in the study. As you formulate your answer, think about the advantages and disadvantages of continuing or canceling the program and the potential consequences for the affected community.

The assignment (2–3 pages):

  • Describe the key variables within the study and provide a summary of the analysis.
  • Explain whether you would continue or discontinue the program, based on the evidence provided in the analysis, and why.
  • Finally, explain potential consequences of your decision for the affected community.
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