What’s to Know? Puzzles in the Literature on the Value of Statistical Life

16 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2011

See all articles by W. Kip Viscusi

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

Date Written: August 9, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: value of statistical life, risk, mortality, meta-analysis

JEL Classification: J17, I18, H40, K32

Suggested Citation

Viscusi, W. Kip, What’s to Know? Puzzles in the Literature on the Value of Statistical Life (August 9, 2011). Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-36. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1908376 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1908376

W. Kip Viscusi (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7715 (Phone)
615-322-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

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