Multi-criteria analysis

A multi-criteria analysis (MCA) is a form of appraisal that measures variables such as material costs, time savings and project sustainability as well as the social and environmental impacts in addition to monetary impacts.

MCA includes variables that may be quantified but are not so easily valued.

"Analysis which is carried out in monetary terms does not usually, in practice, present the analysts with problems of choosing between the interests of different groups in society. A Cost-Effectiveness appraisal may be comparing options with slightly different outputs, but these differences will typically be weighted by decision-makers at a later stage. The valuations used in cost-benefit analysis will include distributional judgements, but these will have been determined at an earlier stage.

A broadly satisfactory criterion that appears to underlie many Cost-Benefit Analysis  (CBA) valuations is that they should reflect the informed preferences of people as a whole, to the extent that these preferences can be measured and averaged. This argues in favour of ensuring that the objectives included in any MCA analysis are sufficiently wide to encompass the main concerns of people as a whole."

Source: Department for Communities and Local Government (2009, p12).


Department for Communities and Local Government (2009), Multi-criteria analysis: a manual. Communities and Local Government Publications, London. Retrieved from

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