How much is your life worth?

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.

Tim Harford’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.