benefit-cost ratio

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The ratio of quantifiable benefits to actual or estimated costs expressed in monetary terms. It is used to assess the economic feasibility or success of a health program. It varies over a wide range. For instance, the cost of preventing dangerous contagious childhood diseases, such as measles, diphtheria, and poliomyelitis, is a few cents per child, whereas the monetary cost of caring for a case may be many thousands of dollars. The cost to society of preventing premature deaths from traffic crashes, coronary heart disease, or lung cancer (if it could be computed) might be several thousands of dollars per “prevented premature death,” but this may be considerably less than the value in goods and services of the productive period of lives lengthened. The term cost-benefit ratio is more often used.

Subjects: Psychology — Public Health and Epidemiology.

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