Finding Love in the Wreckage: Estimating Spousal Altruism with Data on Fatal Car Accidents
22 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2008 Last revised: 26 Aug 2008
Date Written: July 21, 2007
This paper estimates the degree of altruism among spouses by examining how often the driver of a car sacrifices himself or herself in order to save a spouse. Holding constant the magnitude of a collision, a driver can maneuver the car to distribute the risk from a collision between the driver and a passenger. We quantify spousal altruism by the degree to which drivers riding with their spouse redistribute the risk from a fatal accident to themselves - as measured by ex post mortality - as compared to drivers not traveling with their spouse. We find that drivers with their spouses are at least 37% more likely to sacrifice themselves. This implies that they value the lives of their spouses at least 37% more than the lives of other individuals.
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