Investing in Science
Social Cost-Benefit Analysis of Research Infrastructures
384 pp., 6 x 9 in, 32 figures
- Published: October 15, 2019
- Published: September 20, 2019
A proposal for using cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the socioeconomic impact of public investment in large scientific projects.
Large particle accelerators, outer space probes, genomics platforms: all are scientific enterprises managed through the new form of the research infrastructure, in which communities of scientists collaborate across nations, universities, research institutions, and disciplines. Such large projects are often publicly funded, with no accepted way to measure the benefits to society of these investments. In this book, Massimo Florio suggests the use of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to evaluate the socioeconomic impact of public investment in large and costly scientific projects.
The core concept of CBA of any infrastructure is to undertake the consistent intertemporal accounting of social welfare effects using the available information. Florio develops a simple framework for such accounting in the research infrastructure context and then offers a systematic analysis of the benefits in terms of the social agents involved. He measures the benefits to scientists, students, and postdoctoral researchers; the effect on firms of knowledge spillovers; the benefits to users of information technology and science-based innovation; the welfare effects on the general public of cultural services provided by RIs; and the willingness of taxpayers to fund scientific knowledge creation. Finally, Florio shows how these costs and benefits can be expressed in the form of stochastic net present value and other summary indicators.
Massimo Florio's monograph displays a deep and complete understanding of the purpose and functioning of modern, large-scale research infrastructures. The book provides the most comprehensive analysis published to date of the multiple benefits such infrastructures return to science, to education, and to society at large.
Rüdiger Voss, Past President, European Physical Society
Cost–benefit analysis is typically used to evaluate reasonably small projects. In this path-breaking study, Professor Florio goes far beyond even the conventional mega-project to focus on entire research infrastructures that cause multidimensional and worldwide effects. Indispensable reading for everyone interested in the pros and cons of Big Science.
Per-Olov Johansson, Professor of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics
Given that the focus of the cost and benefit of large science projects is often just on the cost, this book is a major addition to understanding the value to society of undertaking these projects.
H. Frederick Dylla, CEO Emeritus, American Institute of Physics