Overcoming Barriers to Integrating Economic Analysis into Risk Assessment


  • The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Research Service or U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Regulatory risk analysis is designed to provide decisionmakers with a clearer understanding of how policies are likely to affect risk. The systems that produce risk are biological, physical, and social and economic. As a result, risk analysis is an inherently interdisciplinary task. Yet in practice, risk analysis has been interdisciplinary in only limited ways. Risk analysis could provide more accurate assessments of risk if there were better integration of economics and other social sciences into risk assessment itself. This essay examines how discussions about risk analysis policy have influenced the roles of various disciplines in risk analysis. It explores ways in which integrated bio/physical-economic modeling could contribute to more accurate assessments of risk. It reviews examples of the kind of integrated economics-bio/physical modeling that could be used to enhance risk assessment. The essay ends with a discussion of institutional barriers to greater integration of economic modeling into risk assessment and provides suggestions on how these might be overcome.