Safety at Any Price?
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
Regulation, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2002
After three decades of experience with extensive government regulation and oversight of health, safety and environmental matters, we have reason to believe that those measures have largely failed to fulfill their initial promise, but many of the initial promises were infeasible goals of a "zero-risk" society. Economic findings with respect to risk-risk tradeoffs highlight the fallacies inherent in government's zero-risk mentality. Agencies that make an unbounded financial commitment to safety frequently are sacrificing individual lives. There continues to be major opportunities to improve regulatory performance by targeting existing inefficiencies and using market mechanisms (rather than strict command-and-control mechanisms) to achieve regulatory goals.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: risk, cost-benefit analysis, risk-risk analysis, health regulation, safety regulation, value of a statistical lifeAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 10, 2003
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