Why don’t we apply NICE-style CBA to development?

The ever-excellent Chris Dillow asks:

2. The National Gallery of Scotland wants the tax-payer to buy some paintings from the Duke of Sutherland. Why don’t we apply Nice-style cost-benefit analysis here? Would £100m spent on art really produce £100m worth of increases in quality-adjusted life years (by improving the quality of life, not length of course)? And if we don’t apply such reasoning, why not? Why is the restrictive CBA of Nice only applied to drugs, rather than to all public spending?

Exactly right. And, in particular, why don’t we apply this form of cost-benefit analysis to international development spending?

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