Over the past several decades, the U.S. has seen a gradual reduction in economic regulation and a simultaneous increase in safety, health, environmental, and other social regulations. Especially with the prospect of regulation on greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, there is growing concern about the costs, effectiveness, and benefits of federal rules. While prospective or ex ante analyses of the benefits and costs of major federal regulations are now a standard part of government operations, retrospective or ex post analyses, focusing on measurements of actual results, remain rare. Despite encouragement from the National Academy of Sciences and others, and a recent presidential executive order promoting retrospective analysis by federal agencies, many challenges hinder development of reliable, comprehensive measures of the performance of regulations and regulatory programs. The available ex post analyses often focus on inappropriate metrics, use data that are subject to selection bias, and rely on questionable baseline assumptions. This seminar examines the evidence on retrospective analysis and proposes a way forward.
A recording of this seminar is available at: https://vimeo.com/81607794