Estimating the Value of Statistical Life (VSL) Losses from COVID-19 Infections in the United States

29 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2020 Last revised: 6 Dec 2021

See all articles by Linus Wilson

Linus Wilson

University of Louisiana at Lafayette - College of Business Administration

Date Written: December 3, 2021

Abstract

This paper uses the Value of Statistical Life (VSL) literature to weigh the costs and benefits of non-pharmaceutical interventions of the U.S. COVID-19 stay-at-home orders that affected 92 percent of the U.S. workforce at their peak in April 2020. We calculate the pre-vaccine COVID-19 infection fatality rate to have been 0.85 percent. We find that the stay-at-home orders saved most likely about 71,000 lives and led to a net benefit to the United States of 1.7 percent of GDP after accounting for lives saved and drops in workforce participation. Through October 31, 2021, the VSL of U.S. lives lost to COVID-19 was over $8.4 trillion.

Keywords: cost-benefit, CFR, COVID-19, IFR, NPI, SARS-CoV-2, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, VSL

JEL Classification: G22, I1, I18, J31, J65, K32

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Linus, Estimating the Value of Statistical Life (VSL) Losses from COVID-19 Infections in the United States (December 3, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3580414 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3580414

Linus Wilson (Contact Author)

University of Louisiana at Lafayette - College of Business Administration ( email )

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