What are social cost-benefit analyses?


A social cost-benefit analysis (CBA) determines the economic and other welfare effects of an investment, for example, of an investment in road safety improvement. This means that a CBA answers the question whether the benefits of an investment outweigh the costs from a social point of view. The costs and benefits are usually considered for a long-term period, for example for a 30-year period. Whenever possible, a CBA expresses the effects in monetary values. This is not just the case for road safety effects, but also for effects on, for example, the environment and mobility. In this way a CBA makes it possible to judge the social return of an investment.

An overview of the social costs and benefits may be used to prioritise separate measures or packages of measures. In addition, a CBA is used to strike a balance between investments in different policy areas. Such choices have to be made when developing policy plans, determining the state budget, and prioritising or phasing investment options. A CBA helps summarise a great deal of information in a rational framework. In the Netherlands, CBAs are often used when deciding about (major) infrastructure projects and other spatial planning investments. Sometimes, CBAs are mandatory, as is the case with investments in the context of the Dutch Multi-Year Programme for Infrastructure, Spatial Planning and Transport (MIRT). In order to safeguard quality and uniformity of CBAs, manuals and methodologies were developed to carry out CBAs, among which a general guideline for CBAs [27]. This also describes how the consequences of measures on road safety can be taken into account.

CBAs of road safety measures often show that the benefits exceed the costs. This is partly because of the high costs of road crashes, and, therefore, the resulting high savings (benefits). As early as 2000, a number of planning agencies [28] concluded that investments in road safety are cost-effective. In the Netherlands, for example, the benefit-cost ratio of investments in Sustainable Safety measures during the period 1998-2007 was calculated to be nearly 4:1 [29] [30]. International overviews of CBAs [31] [32] also indicate that road safety measures generally have higher benefits than costs.

Part of fact sheet

Road crash costs

The social costs of road crashes in the Netherlands in 2020 are estimated at € 27 billion (between € 15 and € 36 billion). This is significantly Meer

Deze factsheet gebruiken?