Retrospectives: The Cold-War Origins of the Value of Statistical Life
This paper traces the history of the "Value of Statistical Life" (VSL), which today is used routinely in benefit-cost analysis of life-saving investments. The "value of statistical life" terminology was introduced by Thomas Schelling (1968) in his essay, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own." Schelling made the crucial move to think in terms of risk rather than individual lives, with the hope to dodge the moral thicket of valuing "life." But as recent policy debates have illustrated, his move only thickened it. Tellingly, interest in the subject can be traced back another twenty years before Schelling's essay to a controversy at RAND Corporation following its earliest application of operations research to defense planning. RAND wanted to avoid valuing pilot's lives but the Air Force insisted they confront the issue. Thus, the VSL is not only well acquainted with political controversy; it was born from it.
Volume (Year): 28 (2014)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/|
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:||Web: https://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- H. Spencer Banzhaf, 2009. "Objective or Multi-Objective? Two Historically Competing Visions for Benefit-Cost Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 85(1), pages 3-23.
- Orley Ashenfelter, 2006.
"Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 10-23, 03.
- Orley Ashenfelter, 2006. "Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects," NBER Working Papers 11916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ashenfelter, Orley, 2006. "Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects," IZA Discussion Papers 1911, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Broome, John, 1978. "Trying to value a life," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 91-100, February.
- Roland N. McKean, 1963. "Cost-Benefit Analysis And British Defence Expenditure," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 10(1), pages 17-35, 02.
- Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
- W. Kip Viscusi & Joseph E. Aldy, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," NBER Working Papers 9487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- James Hammitt & Nicolas Treich, 2007. "Statistical vs. identified lives in benefit-cost analysis," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 45-66, August.
- HAMMITT James K & TREICH Nicolas, 2006. "Statistical vs. Identified Lives in Benefit-Cost Analysis," LERNA Working Papers 06.11.204, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
- James K. Hammitt & Nicolas Treich, 2007. "Statistical vs. Identified Lives in Benefit-Cost Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 1931, CESifo Group Munich.
- Esther-Mirjam Sent, 2007. "Some like it cold: Thomas Schelling as a Cold Warrior," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 455-471.
- Mirowski,Philip, 2002. "Machine Dreams," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521772839, Diciembre.
- H. Spencer Banzhaf, 2010. "Consumer Surplus with Apology: A Historical Perspective on Nonmarket Valuation and Recreation Demand," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 183-207, October.
- Mirowski,Philip, 2002. "Machine Dreams," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521775267, Diciembre.
- Charles Hitch, 1955. "An Appreciation of Systems Analysis," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 3(4), pages 466-481, November.
- Trudy Ann Cameron, 2010. "Euthanizing the Value of a Statistical Life," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(2), pages 161-178, Summer.
- Selma J. Mushkin, 1962. "Health as an Investment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 129-129.
- repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
- Charles Hitch, 1953. "Sub-Optimization in Operations Problems," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 1(3), pages 87-99, May. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:28:y:2014:i:4:p:213-26. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)or (Michael P. Albert)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.