Do Federal Regulations Reduce Mortality?

44 Pages Posted: 30 May 2001

See all articles by Robert W. Hahn

Robert W. Hahn

University of Oxford, Smith School; Georgetown University

Randall Lutter

American Enterprise Institute (AEI); AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies

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: November 2000

Abstract

A minimal test of the desirability of regulations is that they further their primary objectives. In some cases, regulations designed to reduce health, safety, and environmental risks can actually increase risk, especially when such regulations lead to significant reductions in private expenditures on life-saving investments. This monograph assesses the mortality implications of the costs of a group of twenty-four federal health, safety, and environmental regulations.

We find that an unintended increase in risk is likely to result from the majority of regulations examined here. A more positive result is that aggregate mortality risk falls for the entire set of regulations, primarily because a few regulations yield large reductions in risk.

We believe that such analysis can help to highlight the potential problems with inefficient regulation and can serve as a useful complement to other forms of analysis, such as benefit-cost analysis. Specifically, we believe that an assessment of the mortality implications of regulatory costs can and should be used to help identify those regulations whose primary purpose is to save lives but that may have the unintended consequence of actually increasing mortality. In such perverse cases, Congress and the regulatory agencies should seriously consider alternatives that would yield higher levels of economic welfare and save more lives.

Suggested Citation

Hahn, Robert W. and Lutter, Randall and Viscusi, W. Kip, Do Federal Regulations Reduce Mortality? (November 2000). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=259786 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.259786

Robert W. Hahn (Contact Author)

University of Oxford, Smith School ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

Georgetown University

Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Randall Lutter

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-862-7177 (Phone)

AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

W. Kip Viscusi

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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