David Weimer

University of Wisconsin-Madison
La Follette School of Public Affairs

1225 Observatory Drive
Madison, Wisconsin
weimer@lafollette.wisc.edu |  Visit Personal Website

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David Weimer is the Edwin E. Witte Professor of Political Economy. His research focuses broadly on policy craft, institutional design, and health policy. He is working on several research projects in health policy: the role of report cards in promoting improved quality of care, the organ transplant network as a model for medical governance, and the proper measurement of social costs associated with the regulation of addictive goods like tobacco. He also contributes to policy craft, especially the application of cost-benefit analysis to social policy.

Weimer, David L. (forthcoming) Behavioral Economics and Cost-Benefit Analysis: Benefit Validity when Sovereign Consumers Seem to Make Mistakes. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Abstract: The neoclassical foundation for benefit measurement in cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is the individual's willingness to pay for consumption gains and willingness to accept payment for consumption losses. Most commonly, these amounts are estimated from the observation of actual choices made by individuals (revealed preferences) but increasingly from elicitation of hypothetical choices (stated preferences). In both cases, the relative efficiencies of alternative policies are assessed in terms of the sum of benefits they would produce minus the opportunity costs of the real resources they would require to be implemented. A steadily growing and more widely accepted body of research in behavioral economics, which provides more realistic psychological underpinnings for economic modeling, calls into question the fundamental assumption of neoclassical economics that consumers always make choices that maximize their own welfare. What do the challenges of behavioral economics to consumer sovereignty imply for the conduct and interpretation of CBA? How can these findings be accommodated to preserve the value of CBA in contributing to better public policy? The book seeks to answer these questions.
Weimer, David L. and Laura Wilk. 2016. "Allocation of Indivisible Life-Saving Goods with both Intrinsic and Relational Quality." Administration & Society (forthcoming).
Abstract: The allocation of scarce and life-preserving goods confronts society with profound challenges in balancing efficiency and equity. Goods of heterogeneous quality make the challenges analytically complex as well as morally laden. Deceased-donor kidneys for transplant display such heterogeneity, both in terms of relational quality for particular potential recipients and intrinsic quality for any potential recipient. In 2014 the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) implemented a radically different allocation system that more explicitly takes account of intrinsic quality to increase the sum of life-years resulting from the transplantation of deceased-donor kidneys. We trace the evolution of the new allocation system with particular attention both to role of evidence in assessing the efficiency of alternative allocation rules and the ways that concerns about equity and fairness were solicited, assessed, and taken into account in modifying the original proposal. These deliberations show the potential for stakeholder rulemaking to integrate evidence and values to make major changes in the allocation of extremely scarce, heterogeneous, and valuable medical resources.

Substantive Focus:
Governance SECONDARY
Health Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY