What’s to Know? Puzzles in the Literature on the Value of Statistical Life
W. Kip Viscusi
Vanderbilt University - Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics
August 9, 2011
Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-36
Notwithstanding the general acceptance of the value of statistical life (VSL) estimates for policy assessment purposes, several important unresolved issues remain. First, the results from revealed preference studies are systematically higher than those from stated preference studies, potentially limiting the usefulness of stated preference studies in generalizing the VSL estimates to different populations and kinds of risks. Second, extrapolating the results of meta-analyses to project the VSL for different population groups requires that such generalization be reflective of the underlying economic content of what average VSL estimates reflect. Third, government agencies within and across countries place differing emphasis on types of VSL studies as well as differing reliance on individual studies versus meta-analyses. Usually, there is no justification provided for the chosen approach.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: value of statistical life, risk, mortality, meta-analysis
JEL Classification: J17, I18, H40, K32working papers series
Date posted: August 11, 2011
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