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Social benefits

A term sometimes used in two senses: (a) all the gains in welfare which flow from a particular economic decision whether or not they accrue to the individual or institution taking the decision, i.e. the total improvement in welfare of the society as a whole, including the decision-taker, and (b) those gains which accrue not to the individual or agency taking the decision but to the rest of society. In this sense, social benefits are equivalent to beneficial externalities or ‘spill­over’ effects. The first sense is the more widely used.

Reference: The Penguin Dictionary of Economics, 3rd edt.