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Skill and the Value of Life

  • Jason F. Shogren
  • Tommy Stamland

The value of statistical life (VSL) can be inferred through real-world wagefatality risk trade-offs made across different occupations. This paper shows that the VSL based on the wage-risk trade-off tends to be biased upward if it does not account for the diversity of workers' unobservable skill to cope privately with job risk. This upward bias arises because the highest required wage differential among the workers is divided by their average risk across the population.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 110 (2002)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 1168-1197

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:110:y:2002:i:5:p:1168-1197
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  1. Shogren, Jason F. & Crocker, Thomas D., 1991. "Risk, self-protection, and ex ante economic value," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 1-15, January.
  2. Hwang, Hae-shin & Reed, W Robert & Hubbard, Carlton, 1992. "Compensating Wage Differentials and Unobserved Productivity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 835-58, August.
  3. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  4. Ehrlich, Isaac & Becker, Gary S, 1972. "Market Insurance, Self-Insurance, and Self-Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(4), pages 623-48, July-Aug..
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