Prof Paul Frijters: Wellbeing cost-effectiveness analysis, applied to Covid policies

04 July 2022

Wellbeing Cost-Effectiveness (CE) is a recently developed tool to evaluate and appraise the effects of large policies with effects in many areas. It builds on the huge literature concerned with the analysis of the question “how satisfied are individuals with their life?” and is taken to be the best measure of wellbeing we have. The CE methodology is based on the view that the task of government is to maximise the number of satisfied years its population lives. Relative to traditional economic or purely physical health based cost-benefit analysis, the wellbeing objective puts a lot of weight on mental health, social life, and the environment. The talk will explain the logic and key uses of this methodology, applying it to lockdowns in response to covid, whose negative effects, via the disruption to social life and mental health, outweigh the potential (but unlikely) benefits by huge multiples. The intention of the presentation is to alert scholars in the new enlightenment to the potential of this new tool-kit.

Paul is interested in all aspects of social science, but particularly wellbeing and public policy. He has in the past worked as a health economist, a labour economist, a specialist on the economics of China, and an econometrician. He does lab experiments, field experiments, big data analyses, simulation modelling, macro-modelling, econometric theory, micro theory, and field work.

COVID-19 has revealed that it was about more than just public health and the political, economic and societal aspects of the response are of far greater significance than the virus itself. There remains a continued drive toward the transformation of our societies in ways that threaten democracy and our existing ways of life. Open Society Sessions aim to examine the political, societal and economic dimensions of our recent experience and analyse developments in the future.

Publisher’s note: The opinions and findings expressed in articles, reports and interviews on this website are not necessarily the opinions of PANDA, its directors or associates.

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