Health and social well-being depend on many contextual facets which are interdependent in a complex way and are all but limited to the field of cure and care. Publications of the World Health Organization and the Dutch Ministry of Health show that good health also depends on socioeconomic aspects such as stable living conditions and (pre-emptive) debt counselling. Inspired by these findings, many programs have been launched that aim for an integrated approach of health and social issues.
Although these programs enjoy a lot of sympathy, the implementation proves to be difficult. Among many obstacles, more than once the financing of the program is a stumbling block. The hesitation to invest is prompted by the uncertainties of the benefits these programs aim at. These uncertainties relate to both size and distribution. The intended results are mostly long term and not always easy to monetize. Moreover, the benefits may distribute among other stakeholders than those who bore the costs of the program, the so-called ‘wrong pocket problem’. To overcome the hesitation to invest, a social cost-benefit analysis offers a remedy.
Social Cost-Benefit Analysis (SCBA): A SCBA assesses the impact of an investment on society by estimating all relevant costs and revenues – both financial and non-financial – and their (re)distributions amongst stakeholders. From this perspective, this type of analysis is an important contribution to policy development. Publications of public planning and research agencies in the Netherlands underline the contribution of SCBA’s to policymaking in the field of public health and social welfare.