Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects

14 Pages Posted: 8 May 2006

See all articles by Orley Ashenfelter

Orley Ashenfelter

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

Tradeoffs between monetary wealth and fatal safety risks are summarised in the value of a statistical life (VSL), a measure that is widely used for the evaluation of public policies in medicine, the environment, and transportation safety. This article demonstrates the widespread use of this concept and summarises the major issues, both theoretical and empirical, that must be confronted in order to provide a credible estimate of a VSL. The article concludes with an application of these issues to a particular study of speed limits and highway safety.

Suggested Citation

Ashenfelter, Orley C., Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects. Economic Journal, Vol. 116, No. 510, pp. C10-C23, March 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=887615 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2006.01072.x

Orley C. Ashenfelter (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4040 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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