Life and Health Valuation

Value of a Statistical Life

  • Estimates. Viscusi and Aldy have written an exhaustive summary of the literature on the value of a statistical life (VSL) (February 2003). The authors find “estimates using U.S. labor market data, which typically show a VSL in the range of $4 million to $9 million. These values are similar to those generated by U.S. product market and housing market studies” (p. 4).
  • Calculators. Duke sociologist James Moody has created an online calculator that can be used to assess the human cost of violence by calculating the number of people who know someone killed or disabled by a disease (e.g., HIV/AIDS) or act of violence. The user has to provide population size (e.g., U.S. population), the local network size (which, according to Moody may range from 26-49 members for extended families and 192-290 for “acquaintances” who know each other’s names), and the number of people in the event (e.g., individuals with HIV/AIDS or victims of homicide) (full paper (pdf) and downloadable calculator).
  • Morbidity Valuation. Willingness-to-pay estimates of the value of avoiding 1 day of various illnesses (e.g., mild cough, severe headache) can be found in Table 18 of this OECD report.

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