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The Economic Value of Risks to Life: Evidence from the Swiss Labour Market

  • Andrea Baranzini
  • Giovanni Ferro Luzzi

In this paper, we use the hedonic approach to estimate the value of a statistical life based on the 1995 Swiss Labour Force Survey (SLFS) and the 1994 Swiss Wage Structure Survey (SWSS). Roughly, the value of a statistical life in Switzerland ranges from CHF 10 to 15 million (6.5-9.5 million current US$). However, more important than the absolute value, our estimates should be taken as an indicator of the value of a statistical life, which is of an order of magnitude higher than previous studies on the value of life in Switzerland, none of which is based on the hedonic approach. Our study confirms previous literature, since the value of statistical life varies with risk level, union coverage, age, and model assumptions. In particular, by separating between individuals with union coverage and those without, we find a slightly higher (but not significantly so) risk premium for the former, which runs counter the idea that in Switzerland unions bargain for safety measures. Finally, along the lines of Moore and Viscusi (1988), we take into account the discounted life years lost, and find a discount rate not significantly different from zero with SLFS and even negative with the SWSS sample.

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Article provided by Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES) in its journal Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 137 (2001)
Issue (Month): II (June)
Pages: 149-170

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Handle: RePEc:ses:arsjes:2001-ii-2
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  1. Gerking, Shelby & de Haan, Menno & Schulze, William, 1988. " The Marginal Value of Job Safety: A Contingent Valuation Study," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 185-99, June.
  2. Nick Hanley, 1990. "Are There Environmental Limits to Cost Benefit Analysis?," Working Papers Series 90/6, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  3. Mishan, E J, 1971. "Evaluation of Life and Limb: A Theoretical Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 687-705, July-Aug..
  4. Marin, Alan & Psacharopoulos, George, 1982. "The Reward for Risk in the Labor Market: Evidence from the United Kingdom and a Reconciliation with Other Studies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 827-53, August.
  5. Ann Fisher & Lauraine G. Chestnut & Daniel M. Violette, 1989. "The value of reducing risks of death: A note on new evidence," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 88-100.
  6. 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 353-74, June.
  7. Viscusi, W Kip, 1978. "Wealth Effects and Earnings Premiums for Job Hazards," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(3), pages 408-16, August.
  8. Moore, Michael J. & Viscusi, W. Kip, 1990. "Discounting environmental health risks: New evidence and policy implications," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages S51-S62, March.
  9. Siebert, W Stanley & Wei, X, 1994. "Compensating Wage Differentials for Workplace Accidents: Evidence for Union and Nonunion Workers in the UK," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 61-76, July.
  10. Moore, Michael J & Viscusi, W Kip, 1988. "The Quantity-Adjusted Value of Life," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(3), pages 369-88, July.
  11. Lowenstein, George & Prelec, Drazen, 1991. "Negative Time Preference," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 347-52, May.
  12. Dillingham, Alan E, 1985. "The Influence of Risk Variable Definition on Value-of-Life Estimates," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(2), pages 277-94, April.
  13. 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.
  14. Cousineau, Jean-Michel & Lacroix, Robert & Girard, Anne-Marie, 1992. "Occupational Hazard and Wage Compensating Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 166-69, February.
  15. Moore, Michael J, 1995. "Unions, Employment Risks, and Market Provision of Employment Risk Differentials," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 57-70, January.
  16. Garbacz, Christopher, 1989. "Smoke detector effectiveness and the value of saving a life," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 281-286, December.
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