I once asked whether a drug dealer’s life was worth more than a prostitute’s. Steve Landsburg has commented on similar matters. But if you want it from the expert, look for Kip Viscusi’s name. Here’s the latest:
Thomas J. Kniesner, W. Kip Viscusi, Christopher Woock, James P. Ziliak:
Pinning Down the Value of Statistical Life
Our research addresses fundamental long-standing concerns in the compensating wage differentials literature and its public policy implications: the econometric properties of estimates of the value of statistical life (VSL) and the wide range of such estimates from about $0.5 million to about $21 million. We address most of the prominent econometric issues by applying panel data, a new and more accurate fatality risk measure, and systematic selection of panel estimator in our research. Controlling for measurement error, endogeneity, individual heterogeneity, and state dependence yields both a reasonable average level and narrow range for the estimated value of a statistical life of about $5.5–$7.5 million.
The pdf is here.