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Mortality-risk Valuation and Age: Stated Preference Evidence


  • Alan Krupnick


Controversy over the value of statistical life (VSL) centers on whether a single value should be applied to all age groups, as currently done by US government agencies, or whether lower values should be used for the elderly, recognizing that their life expectancies are shorter than those of younger people. Surveys of different age groups' willingness to pay (WTP) for mortality-risk reductions can potentially help resolve this issue.This paper reports on an analysis of this survey literature. Of some 36 studies reviewed, the literature is split on whether older people have a lower WTP for mortality-risk reductions. Even among the studies that find such a discount, its size varies widely. A simple statistical analysis of this literature reveals that larger samples and samples with a higher fraction of older people are significantly associated with finding this effect, suggesting that conducting a larger, more thorough study may help resolve this issue. The paper also raises the possibility that the WTP estimated when all factors related to age are allowed to vary may be more useful to policy than the WTP estimated when all such factors are held constant. A clear finding is that there is no evidence to support use of a uniform value of statistical life year. Copyright 2007, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Krupnick, 2007. "Mortality-risk Valuation and Age: Stated Preference Evidence," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 1(2), pages 261-282, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:1:y:2007:i:2:p:261-282

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