Estimating the Value of Statistical Life (VSL) Losses from COVID-19 Infections in the United States
21 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2020 Last revised: 26 Jan 2021
Date Written: January 25, 2021
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: mortality, death rates, CFR, COVID-19, IFR, SARS-CoV-2, school closures, social distancing, stay at home orders, VSL
JEL Classification: G22, I1, I18, J31, J65, K32
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