Cost-Benefit Analysis


Cost–benefit analysis (CBA), sometimes also called benefit–cost analysis, is a systematic approach to estimating the strengths and weaknesses of alternatives used to determine options which provide the best approach to achieving benefits while preserving savings (for example, in transactions, activities, and functional business requirements). A CBA may be used to compare completed or potential courses of actions, or to estimate (or evaluate) the value against the cost of a decision, project, or policy. It is commonly used in commercial transactions, business or policy decisions (particularly public policy), and project investments.

CBA has two main applications:

  1. To determine if an investment (or decision) is sound, ascertaining if – and by how much – its benefits outweigh its costs.
  2. To provide a basis for comparing investments (or decisions), comparing the total expected cost of each option with its total expected benefits.

CBA is related to cost-effectiveness analysis. Benefits and costs in CBA are expressed in monetary terms and are adjusted for the time value of money; all flows of benefits and costs over time are expressed on a common basis in terms of their net present value, regardless of whether they are incurred at different times. Other related techniques include cost–utility analysisrisk–benefit analysiseconomic impact analysis, fiscal impact analysis, and social return on investment (SROI) analysis.

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