Introduction to Cost Benefit Analysis

Course Presenter: :
Joanne Leung, Ministry of Transport
Kirsten Jensen, NZ Treasury

Monday, 4th of October
Thursday, 7th of October
Monday, 11th of October
Thursday, 14th of October
Monday, 18th of October

All sessions run from 9am until 1pm

Location: The Treasury, Level 3, 1 Terrace, Wellington.

This course is now full. Please note that the course will not run in level 2. Attendees will be contacted directly about any date changes that may occur.


Many public policy decisions involve balancing costs and benefits. Cost-benefit analysis provides a structured framework for comparing costs to benefits and analysing which are greater overall. The objective of this course is to provide participants with an appreciation of that framework, gain a broad understanding of the economic theory that underlies cost-benefit analysis, as well as the specific quantitative steps necessary to execute a cost-benefit analysis.

Course Learning Objectives

On completion of this course, participants should be able to:
• identify when a policy question or issue would benefit from cost-benefit analysis;
• where appropriate, to translate a generic statement of a policy question or issue into a properly framed cost-benefit analysis;
• appreciate how costs and benefits that occur over time should be handled, including discussion of the choice and application of a discount rate;
• aware of the methods for quantifying costs and benefits that are not immediately measurable in economic terms and their roles in cost-benefit analysis;
• recognise and appropriately incorporate costs and benefits that are not possible to quantify;
• present the results of cost-benefit analysis to decision-makers in an effective manner (including how to complete NZ Treasury’s template).

Session outline and delivery

Day 1
Introduction and learning objectives
Structure of a cost-benefit analysis (CBA)
The roles of CBA in policy development process
Framing a cost-benefit analysis

Day 2
Components of a cost-benefit analysis
Intervention logic mapping
Identifying cost and benefit items
Carrying out a qualitative cost-benefit analysis

Day 3
Overview of valuation of costs and benefits
Sourcing cost and benefit values
Key steps to carry out a quantitative cost-benefit analysis

Day 4
Handling costs and benefits over time
Treatment of uncertainty
Presentation of analysis, results and recommendation

Day 5
Practical application of the CBAx tool

Target audience and assumed background

This course will be most helpful to policy advisors who need to understand the basic mechanics of a cost-benefit analysis, to conduct or be able to critically review cost-benefit analyses done by others.

No previous knowledge of economics is assumed. Some familiarity with economic thinking and terminologies would be helpful.

Course Costs

This course is provided by the Government Economics Network (GEN) at a cost of $300 plus GST per person.