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Are estimates of the value of a statistical life exaggerated?

Listed author(s):
  • Doucouliagos, Chris
  • Stanley, T.D.
  • Giles, Margaret

The magnitude of the value of a statistical life (VSL) is critical to the evaluation of many health and safety initiatives. To date, the large and rigorous VSL research literature has not explicitly accommodated publication selectivity bias (i.e., the reduced probability that insignificant or negative VSL values are reported). This study demonstrates that doing so is essential. For studies that employ hedonic wage equations to estimate VSL, correction for selection bias reduces the average value of a statistical life by 70–80%. Our meta-regression analysis also identifies several sources for the wide heterogeneity found among reported VSL estimates.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 197-206

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:1:p:197-206
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.10.001
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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  1. G. Dionne & P.-C. Michaud, 2002. "Statistical Analysis of Value-of Life estimates using Hedonic Wage Method," THEMA Working Papers 2002-13, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  2. Bellavance, Franois & Dionne, Georges & Lebeau, Martin, 2009. "The value of a statistical life: A meta-analysis with a mixed effects regression model," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 444-464, March.
  3. Ashenfelter, Orley, 2006. "Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects," IZA Discussion Papers 1911, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Thomas Kniesner & W. Viscusi & James Ziliak, 2010. "Policy relevant heterogeneity in the value of statistical life: New evidence from panel data quantile regressions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 15-31, February.
  5. Lisa A. Robinson, 2007. "Policy Monitor How US Government Agencies Value Mortality Risk Reductions," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 1(2), pages 283-299, Summer.
  6. T. D. Stanley, 2008. "Meta-Regression Methods for Detecting and Estimating Empirical Effects in the Presence of Publication Selection," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 70(1), pages 103-127, 02.
  7. Adler, Matthew D & Posner, Eric A, 2000. "Implementing Cost-Benefit Analysis When Preferences Are Distorted," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 1105-1147, June.
  8. T. D. Stanley, 2005. "Beyond Publication Bias," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 309-345, 07.
  9. Hristos Doucouliagos & T. D. Stanley, 2009. "Publication Selection Bias in Minimum-Wage Research? A Meta-Regression Analysis," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(2), pages 406-428, 06.
  10. W. Viscusi, 2010. "The heterogeneity of the value of statistical life: Introduction and overview," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 1-13, February.
  11. 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.
  12. J. Bradford De Long & Kevin Lang, "undated". "Are All Economic Hypotheses False?," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers _117, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
  13. Sandy, Robert & Elliott, Robert F, 1996. "Unions and Risk: Their Impact on the Level of Compensation for Fatal Risk," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 291-309, May.
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  15. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Time-Series Minimum-Wage Studies: A Meta-analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 238-243, May.
  16. Alan Krupnick, 2002. "The value of reducing risk of death: a policy perspective," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 275-282.
  17. Dan A. Black & Thomas J. Kniesner, 2003. "On the Measurement of Job Risk in Hedonic Wage Models," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 49, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  18. 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.
  19. Liu, Jin-Tan & Hammitt, James K. & Liu, Jin-Long, 1997. "Estimated hedonic wage function and value of life in a developing country," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 353-358, December.
  20. Christopher S. Carpenter & Mark F. Stehr, 2010. "Intended and Unintended Effects of Youth Bicycle Helmet Laws," NBER Working Papers 15658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Leigh J. Paul, 1995. "Compensating Wages, Value of a Statistical Life, and Inter-industry Differentials," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 83-97, January.
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  23. Bowland, Brad J. & Beghin, John C., 2001. "Robust Estimates of Value of a Statistical Life for Developing Economies," Staff General Research Papers Archive 5196, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  24. T. D. Stanley, 2001. "Wheat from Chaff: Meta-analysis as Quantitative Literature Review," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
  25. Thijs Dekker & Roy Brouwer & Marjan Hofkes & Klaus Moeltner, 2011. "The Effect of Risk Context on the Value of a Statistical Life: a Bayesian Meta-model," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(4), pages 597-624, August.
  26. T.D. Stanley & Hristos Doucouliagos, 2010. "Picture This: A Simple Graph That Reveals Much Ado About Research," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(1), pages 170-191, 02.
  27. 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.
  28. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. 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.
  30. Peter Dorman & Paul Hagstrom, 1998. "Wage Compensation for Dangerous Work Revisited," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(1), pages 116-135, October.
  31. Ikuho Kochi & Bryan Hubbell & Randall Kramer, 2006. "An Empirical Bayes Approach to Combining and Comparing Estimates of the Value of a Statistical Life for Environmental Policy Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 34(3), pages 385-406, July.
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