Nonsectarian Welfare Statements
Regulation & Governance, Forthcoming
12 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2013 Last revised: 1 Nov 2013
Date Written: August 28, 2013
How can we measure whether national institutions in general, and regulatory institutions in particular, are dysfunctional? A central question is whether they are helping a nation’s citizens to live good lives. A full answer to that question would require a great deal of philosophical work, but it should be possible to achieve an incompletely theorized agreement on a kind of nonsectarian welfarism, emphasizing the importance of five variables: subjective well-being, longevity, health, educational attainment, and per capita income. In principle, it would be valuable to identify the effects of new initiatives (including regulations) on all of these variables. In practice, it is not feasible to do so; assessments of subjective well-being present particular challenges. In their ideal form, Regulatory Impact Statements should be seen as Nonsectarian Welfare Statements, seeking to identify the consequences of regulatory initiatives for various components of welfare. So understood, they provide reasonable measures of regulatory success or failure, and hence a plausible test of dysfunction. There is a pressing need for improved evaluations, including both randomized controlled trials and ex post assessments.
Keywords: subjective well-being, welfarism, cost-benefit analysis, randomized controlled trials, retrospective analysis
JEL Classification: D02, D73, D78, I18, K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation