Valuing life: Experimental evidence using sensitivity to rare events
Global environmental phenomena like climate change, major extinction events or flutype pandemics can have catastrophic consequences. By properly assessing the outcomes involved – especially those concerning human life – economic theory of choice under uncertainty is expected to help people take the best decision. However, the widely used expected utility theory values life in terms of the low probability of death someone would be willing to accept in order to receive extra payment. Common sense and experimental evidence refute this way of valuing life, and here we provide experimental evidence of people's unwillingness to accept a low probability of death, contrary to expected utility predictions. This work uses new axioms of choice defined by Chichilnisky (2000), especially an axiom that allows extreme responses to extreme events, and the choice criterion that they imply. The implied decision criteria are a combination of expected utility with extreme responses, and seem more consistent with observations.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
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.:
- repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
- Buchholz, Wolfgang & Schymura, Michael, 2012.
"Expected utility theory and the tyranny of catastrophic risks,"
Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 234-239.
- Buchholz, Wolfgang & Schymura, Michael, 2010. "Expected Utility theory and the tyranny of catastrophic risks," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-059, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
- Olivier Chanel & Graciela Chichilnisky, 2009. "The influence of fear in decisions: Experimental evidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 271-298, December.
- Smith, Vernon L, 1976. "Experimental Economics: Induced Value Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 274-79, May.
- 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.
- 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.
- Martin L. Weitzman, 2011. "Fat-Tailed Uncertainty in the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 275-292, Summer.
- Knutson, Brian & Peterson, Richard, 2005. "Neurally reconstructing expected utility," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 305-315, August.
- Graciela Chichilnisky, 2009. "Catastrophic risks," International Journal of Green Economics, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 3(2), pages 130-141.
- Masako Ikefuji & Roger Laeven & Jan Magnus & Chris Muris, 2014. "Expected Utility and Catastrophic Risk," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-133/III, Tinbergen Institute.
- Kip Smith & John Dickhaut & Kevin McCabe & José V. Pardo, 2002. "Neuronal Substrates for Choice Under Ambiguity, Risk, Gains, and Losses," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(6), pages 711-718, June.
- Sherwin Rosen, .
"The Value of Changes in Life Expectancy,"
University of Chicago - Population Research Center
87-14, Chicago - Population Research Center.
- Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-46, December.
- Chichilnisky, Graciela, 2000. "An axiomatic approach to choice under uncertainty with catastrophic risks," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 221-231, July.
- Camerer, Colin F. & Hogarth, Robin M., 1999.
"The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework,"
1059, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
- Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1993. "Monetary Rewards and Decision Cost in Experimental Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 245-61, April.
- Millner, Antony, 2013. "On welfare frameworks and catastrophic climate risks," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 310-325.
- Chichilnisky, Graciela, 2009. "The topology of fear," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(12), pages 807-816, December.
- Janusz R. Mrozek & Laura O. Taylor, 2002. "What determines the value of life? a meta-analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 253-270.
- Sunstein, Cass R, 2003. " Terrorism and Probability Neglect," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 121-36, March-May.
- Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
- Harrison, Glenn W, 1994. "Expected Utility Theory and the Experimentalists," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 223-53.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:85:y:2013:i:c:p:198-205. 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: (Zhang, Lei)
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.