Estimating the Life Expectancy and Value of Statistical Life (VSL) Losses from COVID-19 Infections in the United States
33 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2020 Last revised: 14 Jan 2021
Date Written: January 13, 2021
Americans aged sixty or older stand to lose 153 to 222 days of life expectancy from contracting COVID-19. Over 90 percent of the U.S. population was under stay at home orders by April 2020. These social distancing measures to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 or novel coronavirus have led to over 20 million new applications for unemployment benefits. Are these economic losses justified? We find the value of statistical lives lost (VSL) from an unconstrained spread of the virus which hypothetically infected 81 percent of the population would amount to $8 to $60 trillion.
Keywords: actuarial tables, mortality, death rates, CFR, COVID-19, IFR, life expectancy, SARS-CoV-2, school closures, social distancing, stay at home orders, VSL
JEL Classification: G22, I1, I18, J31, J65, K32
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