In this course you will learn how cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of projects and policies is used to to assist decision making.

The course is part of the studies in the Master's programme in Agricultural, Environmental and Resource Economics (AGERE), University of Helsinki.

Learning aims:

  • understand the microeconomic theory behind CBA
  • learn to distinguish between impacts in primary markets and secondary markets
  • learn the basics of benefit-transfer to value non-market impacts
  • understand the role of the discount rate on the net present value of a project
  • understand how uncertainty is incorporated into CBA in theory and practice
  • understand how distributional issues can be incorporated into CBA
  • critically assess CBA studies and distinguish a well-conducted CBA from a poor one


1. Introduction to CBA

2. Microeconomic foundations of CBA I (compensating variation, equivalent variation)

3. Microeconomic foundations of CBA II (Potential Pareto Improvements)

4. Valuing changes in primary markets

5. Valuing changes in secondary (job) markets

6. Benefit transfer

7. Discounting in practice

8. Dealing with uncertainty

9. Distributional aspects

10. Social discount rate

Course opens March 11 2024

Enrolment: spring course: 16.2.-10.5.2024 and summer course 29.3.-10.9.2024

Open university fee 75 euros. Free for bachelor’s or master’s degree students at the University of Helsinki.

Read more on course page:

A University of Helsinki user account will be issued to open university students upon enrolment. You can activate your account at the earliest on the day following your enrollment. Instructions for activating your account are available in the Studies Service.

You can access the online learning environment on DigiCampus space with your University of Helsinki user account. Online learning environment opens on March 11. When you are logging into the DigiCampus space for the first time  it requires a course key. Get the course from the course page. You can see the course key by logging into the course page with your UH user account.  Course page: Spring course / Summer course

In the Studies Service, you will also find instructions for studying and current bulletins for open university students. Didn’t find what you were looking for? Contact the open university student advice.

  • Teacher: Anna-Kaisa Kosenius
Kotiorganisaatio/hanke: Helsingin yliopisto