The Heterogeneous Value of a Statistical Life: Evidence from U.S. Army Reenlistment Decisions

75 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2021 Last revised: 30 Sep 2021

See all articles by Kyle Greenberg

Kyle Greenberg

United States Military Academy, West Point

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; Becker Friedman Institute for Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Stephen Ryan

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Michael Yankovich

United States Military Academy, West Point

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 29, 2021

Abstract

We estimate the value of a statistical life (VSL), or the willingness to trade-off wealth and mortality risk, among 430,000 U.S. Army soldiers choosing whether to reenlist from 2002-2010. Using a discrete choice random utility approach and significant variation in retention bonuses and mortality risk, we recover average VSL estimates between $500,000 and $900,000, an order of magnitude smaller than U.S. civilian labor market estimates. We then document substantial heterogeneity by recovering indifference curves between wealth and mortality risk. The VSL increases with mortality risk within type, and soldiers in combat occupations have lower VSLs than those in noncombat occupations.

Keywords: Value of Life, Forgone Income, Wage Level and Structure, Wage Differentials, Public Sector Labor Markets

JEL Classification: J17, J31, J45

Suggested Citation

Greenberg, Kyle and Greenstone, Michael and Ryan, Stephen and Yankovich, Michael, The Heterogeneous Value of a Statistical Life: Evidence from U.S. Army Reenlistment Decisions (September 29, 2021). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2021-75, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3877413 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3877413

Kyle Greenberg

United States Military Academy, West Point ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States

Michael Greenstone (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Stephen Ryan

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Michael Yankovich

United States Military Academy, West Point ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
82
Abstract Views
292
rank
364,686
PlumX Metrics