Policy decisions can be informed by information on anticipated costs and expected future benefits of courses of action. The key questions in economic evaluation of a public health law are whether its benefits, as measured by health outcomes or cost savings, exceed its costs; secondarily, there is the question of the distribution of those costs and benefits across stakeholders. Cost savings are concrete and understandable benefits, and they provide a single compact measure that captures wrecked cars, stolen statues, fractured arms, even deaths.

Alternatively available on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN): http://ssrn.com/abstract=2012618