Valuing Foreign Lives and Civilizations in Cost-Benefit Analysis: The Case of the United States and Climate Change Policy

34 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2009

Date Written: December 16, 2009

Abstract

This Article explores the case for including losses of foreign (non-U.S.) lives and settlements in the estimated cost to the United States of unmitigated climate change in the future. The inclusion of losses of such foreign lives and settlements in cost benefit analysis (CBA) could have large implications not only for U.S. climate change policy but also for policies adopted by other nations and the practice of CBA generally. One difficult problem is how to assess U.S. residents' willingness to pay to prevent the losses of foreign lives and settlements. This Article discusses internet-based surveys that are a first step toward filling the empirical void in the literature regarding the measurement of U.S. residents' willingness to pay to prevent the losses of foreign lives and settlements. The survey results reported in this Article suggest that U.S. residents substantially value foreign lives and settlements. Such results make the implicit assumption of CBAs as they are currently undertaken – that U.S. residents would be willing to pay nothing to save foreign lives and settlements – very hard to maintain.

Keywords: Climate Change, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Stated Preference

JEL Classification: K23, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Dana, David A., Valuing Foreign Lives and Civilizations in Cost-Benefit Analysis: The Case of the United States and Climate Change Policy (December 16, 2009). Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 09-47. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1524337 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1524337

David A. Dana (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-0240 (Phone)
312-503-2035 (Fax)

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