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Estimating the Value of a Statistical Life: The Importance of Omitted Variables and Publication Bias

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  • Orley Ashenfelter
  • Michael Greenstone

Abstract

In this paper we show that omitted variables and publication bias lead to severely biased estimates of the value of a statistical life. Although our empirical results are obtained in the context of a study of choices about road safety, we suspect that the same issues plague the estimation of monetary trade-offs regarding safety in other contexts.
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Suggested Citation

  • Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Estimating the Value of a Statistical Life: The Importance of Omitted Variables and Publication Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 454-460, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:2:p:454-460
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828041301984
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Glenn C. Blomquist, 2004. "Self-Protection and Averting Behavior, Values of Statistical Lives, and Benefit Cost Analysis of Environmental Policy," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 89-110, March.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley & Harmon, Colm & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1999. "A review of estimates of the schooling/earnings relationship, with tests for publication bias," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 453-470, November.
    3. Black, Dan A & Kniesner, Thomas J, 2003. "On the Measurement of Job Risk in Hedonic Wage Models," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 205-220, December.
    4. Richard Thaler & Sherwin Rosen, 1976. "The Value of Saving a Life: Evidence from the Labor Market," NBER Chapters,in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 265-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-1946, December.
    6. Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Using Mandated Speed Limits to Measure the Value of a Statistical Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 226-267, February.
    7. repec:fth:prinin:425 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Orley Ashenfelter & Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek, 1999. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/Earnings Relationship, with Tests for Publication Bias," Working Papers 804, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • P49 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Other
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • P50 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - General
    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems

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    1. Meta-Analysis in Economics

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