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Regulation of Health, Safety, and Environmental Risks

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  • Viscusi, W. Kip

Abstract

This paper provides a systematic review of the economic analysis of health, safety, and environmental regulations. Although the market failures that give rise to a rationale for intervention are well known, not all market failures imply that market risk levels are too great. Hazard warnings policies often can address informational failures. Some market failures may be exacerbated by government policies, particularly those embodying conservative risk assessment practices. Labor market estimates of the value of statistical life provide a useful reference point for the efficient risk tradeoffs for government regulation. Guided by restrictive legislative mandates, regulatory policies often strike a quite different balance with an inordinately high cost per life saved. The risk-risk analysis methodology enables analysts to assess the net safety implications of policy efforts. Inadequate regulatory enforcement and behavioral responses to regulation may limit their effectiveness, while rising societal wealth will continue to generate greater levels of health and safety.

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This chapter was published in:

  • A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell (ed.), 2007. "Handbook of Law and Economics," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
    This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Law and Economics with number 1-09.

    Handle: RePEc:eee:lawchp:1-09

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    Web page: http://www.elsevierdirect.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780444512352

    Related research

    Keywords: risk; regulation; value of statistical life; health and safety; environment; risk-risk analysis; benefit-cost analysis; cost effectiveness;

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    Cited by:
    1. Donado, Alejandro & Wälde, Klaus, 2009. "Trade unions go global!," IAB Discussion Paper 200903, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    2. Matthew A Cole & Robert J R Elliott & Joanne K Lindley, 2009. "Dirty Money: Is there a Wage Premium for Working in a Pollution Intensive Industry," Discussion Papers 09-13, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    3. Angelova, Vera & Attanasi, Giuseppe & Hiriart, Yolande, 2012. "Relative Performance of Liability Rules: Experimental Evidence," LERNA Working Papers 12.05.362, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    4. Peter Kooreman & Henriëtte Prast, 2010. "What Does Behavioral Economics Mean for Policy? Challenges to Savings and Health Policies in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 158(2), pages 101-122, June.
    5. Tomas J. Philipson & Eric Sun, 2007. "Is the Food and Drug Administration Safe and Effective?," NBER Working Papers 13561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. J.A. den Hertog, 2010. "Review of economic theories of regulation," Working Papers 10-18, Utrecht School of Economics.

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