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The Cost of Life Expectancy and the Implicit Social Valuation of Life

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  • Dowrick, Steve
  • Dunlop, Yvonne
  • Quiggin, John

Abstract

A new method of estimating the economic value of life is proposed. Using cross-country data, an equation is estimated to explain life expectancy as a function of real consumption of goods and services. The associated cost function for life expectancy in terms of the prices of specific goods and services is used to estimate the cost of a reduction in age-specific mortality rates sufficient to save the life of one person. The cost of saving a life in OECD countries is as much as 1,000 times that in the poorest countries. Ethical implications are discussed. Copyright 1998 by The editors of the Scandinavian Journal of Economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Dowrick, Steve & Dunlop, Yvonne & Quiggin, John, 1998. " The Cost of Life Expectancy and the Implicit Social Valuation of Life," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(4), pages 673-691, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:100:y:1998:i:4:p:673-91
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem & Ryder, Harl E. & Weil, David N., 2000. "Mortality decline, human capital investment, and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 1-23, June.
    2. Jones Charles I., 2001. "Was an Industrial Revolution Inevitable? Economic Growth Over the Very Long Run," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-45, August.
    3. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1998. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 98-3, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 19 Aug 1998.
    4. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 11-44, August.
    5. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
    6. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
    7. Stokey, Nancy L., 2001. "A quantitative model of the British industrial revolution, 1780-1850," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 55-109, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dowrick, Steve & Dunlop, Yvonne & Quiggin, John, 2003. "Social indicators and comparisons of living standards," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 501-529, April.
    2. Ravallion, Martin, 2012. "Troubling tradeoffs in the Human Development Index," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 201-209.
    3. Halkos, George & Tzeremes, Nickolaos, 2005. "A DEA approach to regional development," MPRA Paper 3992, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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