Calculating the Economic Value of Non-marginal Mortality Risk Reductions

18 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2023 Last revised: 15 Jul 2023

See all articles by Diego S. Cardoso

Diego S. Cardoso

Purdue University

Ricardo Dahis

Monash University; Data Basis

Date Written: July 13, 2023


Benefit-cost analyses in public health typically calculate the benefits of mortality reduction interventions by multiplying the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) and the expected decrease in fatalities. This procedure approximates the benefits of small mortality changes but is inaccurate for large risk changes because it holds constant the VSL — a marginal rate of substitution. Building on the theoretical framework of the VSL, we derive expressions to calculate the benefits of non-marginal mortality reductions with empirically-calibrated compensating variations and illustrate their use.

Keywords: Value of a Statistical Life, VSL, Benefit-Cost Analysis, Mortality Risk

JEL Classification: D61, D81, H51, I10, I18, Q51

Suggested Citation

Cardoso, Diego S. and Dahis, Ricardo, Calculating the Economic Value of Non-marginal Mortality Risk Reductions (July 13, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Diego S. Cardoso (Contact Author)

Purdue University ( email )

403 Mitch Daniels Blvd
West Lafayette, IN 47907
United States

Ricardo Dahis

Monash University ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3

Data Basis ( email )

Rio de Janeiro

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