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Policy relevant heterogeneity in the value of statistical life: New evidence from panel data quantile regressions

Author

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  • Thomas Kniesner

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  • W. Viscusi
  • James Ziliak

Abstract

We examine differences in the value of statistical life (VSL) across potential wage levels in panel data using quantile regressions with intercept heterogeneity. Latent heterogeneity is econometrically important and affects the estimated VSL. Our findings indicate that a reasonable average cost per expected life saved cut-off for health and safety regulations is $7 million to $8 million per life saved, but the VSL varies considerably across the labor force. Our results reconcile the previous discrepancies between hedonic VSL estimates and the values implied by theories linked to the coefficient of relative risk aversion. Because the VSL varies elastically with income, regulatory agencies should regularly update the VSL used in benefit assessments, increasing the VSL proportionally with changes in income over time.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:40:y:2010:i:1:p:15-31 DOI: 10.1007/s11166-009-9084-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Joseph E. Aldy & W. Kip Viscusi, 2008. "Adjusting the Value of a Statistical Life for Age and Cohort Effects," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 573-581, August.
    2. 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.
    3. Raj Chetty, 2006. "A New Method of Estimating Risk Aversion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1821-1834, December.
    4. Craig A. Olson, 1981. "An Analysis of Wage Differentials Received by Workers on Dangerous Jobs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 16(2), pages 167-185.
    5. Eeckhoudt, Louis R & Hammitt, James K, 2001. "Background Risks and the Value of a Statistical Life," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 261-279, November.
    6. Thomas J. Kniesner & James P. Ziliak, 2002. "Tax Reform and Automatic Stabilization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 590-612, June.
    7. Koenker, Roger, 2004. "Quantile regression for longitudinal data," Journal of Multivariate Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 74-89, October.
    8. Black, Dan A & Kniesner, Thomas J, 2003. "On the Measurement of Job Risk in Hedonic Wage Models," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 205-220, December.
    9. Mary Evans & V. Smith, 2010. "Measuring how risk tradeoffs adjust with income," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 33-55, February.
    10. Charles F. Manski, 2010. "When consensus choice dominates individualism: Jensen's inequality and collective decisions under uncertainty," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, pages 187-202.
    11. 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.
    12. Viscusi, W Kip & Evans, William N, 1990. "Utility Functions That Depend on Health Status: Estimates and Economic Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 353-374, June.
    13. Louis Kaplow, 2005. "The Value of a Statistical Life and the Coefficient of Relative Risk Aversion," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 23-34, July.
    14. W. Viscusi, 2009. "Valuing risks of death from terrorism and natural disasters," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 191-213, June.
    15. Mellow, Wesley & Sider, Hal, 1983. "Accuracy of Response in Labor Market Surveys: Evidence and Implications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 331-344, October.
    16. Ziliak, James P., 1998. "Does the choice of consumption measure matter? An application to the permanent-income hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 201-216, February.
    17. W. Kip Viscusi, 2004. "The Value of Life: Estimates with Risks by Occupation and Industry," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 29-48, January.
    18. repec:reg:rpubli:299 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Raj Chetty, 2009. "The Simple Economics of Salience and Taxation," NBER Working Papers 15246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Rachel Baker & Susan Chilton & Michael Jones-Lee & Hugh Metcalf, 2008. "Valuing lives equally: Defensible premise or unwarranted compromise?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 125-138, April.
    22. James P. Ziliak & Thomas J. Kniesner, 1998. "The Importance of Sample Attrition in Life Cycle Labor Supply Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 507-530.
    23. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2012. "The Value of a Statistical Life: Evidence from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 74-87, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Value of statistical life; VSL; Quantile regression; Panel data; Fixed effects; PSID; Fatality risk; CFOI; JEL Classification ; C23; I10; J17; J28; K00;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)

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