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Washington State Institute for Public Policy

Benefit-Cost Results

Since the 1990s, the Washington State legislature has directed WSIPP to identify “evidence-based” policies. The goal is to provide Washington policymakers and budget writers with a list of well-researched public policies that can, with a high degree of certainty, lead to better statewide outcomes coupled with a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Research Approach. WSIPP has developed a three-step process to draw conclusions about what works and what does not to achieve particular outcomes of legislative interest. First, we systematically assess all high-quality studies from the United States and elsewhere to identify policy options that have been tested and found to achieve improvements in outcomes. Second, we determine how much it would cost Washington taxpayers to produce the results found in Step 1, and calculate how much it would be worth to people in Washington State to achieve the improved outcome. That is, in dollars and cents terms, we compare the benefits and costs of each policy option. It is important to note that the benefit-cost estimates pertain specifically to Washington State; results will vary from state to state. Third, we assess the risk in the estimates to determine the odds that a particular policy option will at least break even. more

WSIPP acknowledges the MacArthur Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts that have helped fund some of the research reported on this page.

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Overview of WSIPP's Benefit-Cost Model

Estimating Program Effects Using Effect Sizes

For details on our benefit-cost methods, contact Heather Grob or download our Technical Documentation.

Latest Results. The tables on this webpage present our current findings for a variety of public policy topics. Items on these tables are updated periodically as new information becomes available. Interested readers can find more information by clicking each entry in the tables.

Use the search fields below to find specific benefit-cost results that match certain criteria. If you want to find other information on our website that is not benefit-cost results, you can use the search field in the navigation bar at the top, or click here to search the entire website.

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Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2023

Current estimates replace old estimates. Numbers will change over time as a result of model inputs and monetization methods.

Found 4 BC Results
Research Area Program name
(click on the program name for more detail)
Date of last literature review
Total benefits
Taxpayer benefits
Non-taxpayer benefits
Benefits minus costs (net present value)
Benefit to cost ratio
Chance benefits will exceed costs
Substance Use Disorders Sep. 2018 $9 $26 ($16) ($128) ($119) $0.07 48%

Other topics reviewed; benefit-cost results not yet available:

Research Area Program name
(click on the program name for more detail)
Date of last literature review Notes
Public Health & Prevention
Compliance checks for alcohol
Jun. 2016 Click for meta-analytic results
Public Health & Prevention
Compliance checks for tobacco
Jun. 2016 Click for meta-analytic results
Adult Criminal Justice
Cautioning for cannabis offenses
Mar. 2017 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Click to expand