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The Value of Statistical Life: A Meta-Analysis of Meta-Analyses


  • Banzhaf, H. Spencer


The value of statistical life (VSL) is arguably the most important number in benefit–cost analyses of environmental, health, and transportation policies. However, agencies have used a wide range of VSL values. One reason may be the embarrassment of riches when it comes to VSL studies. While meta-analysis is a standard way to synthesize information across studies, we now have multiple competing meta-analyses and reviews. Thus, to analysts, picking one such meta-analysis may feel as hard as picking a single “best study.” This article responds by taking the meta-analysis another step, estimating a meta-analysis (or mixture distribution) of seven meta-analyses. The baseline model yields a central VSL of $8.0 m, with a 90 % confidence interval of $2.4–$14.0 m. The provided code allows users to easily change subjective weights on the studies, add new studies, or change adjustments for income, inflation, and latency.

Suggested Citation

  • Banzhaf, H. Spencer, 2022. "The Value of Statistical Life: A Meta-Analysis of Meta-Analyses," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 182-197, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jbcoan:v:13:y:2022:i:2:p:182-197_3

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    Cited by:

    1. Alexander Cheung & Joseph Marchand & Patricia Mark, 2022. "Loss of Life and Labor Productivity: The Canadian Opioid Crisis," The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, , vol. 703(1), pages 303-323, September.
    2. Zubova, Ekaterina, 2022. "Value of statistical life in Russia: Estimates based on panel microdata for 2010–2020," Applied Econometrics, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), vol. 65, pages 45-64.
    3. Liang Tan & Aochen Cao & Dongyang Qiu & Bolin Liang, 2023. "Life Value Assessment Methods in Emerging Markets: Evidence from China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(10), pages 1-13, May.
    4. Cropper, Maureen L. & Joiner, Emily & Krupnick, Alan, 2023. "Revisiting the Environmental Protection Agency's Value of Statistical Life," RFF Working Paper Series 23-30, Resources for the Future.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects


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