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Is There a "Dead-Anyway" Effect in Willingness to Pay for Risk Reduction?


  • Friedrich Breyer
  • Markus M. Grabka


In einem neueren Beitrag diskutieren Pratt and Zeckhauser (JPE, 1996), welches Maß der marginalen Zahlungsbereitschaft (WTP) von Individuen für die Reduktion ihrer Sterbewahrscheinlichkeit bei öffentlichen Entscheidungen über gefahrenerhebliche Projekte verwendet werden sollte. Sie schlagen vor, die gemessene WTP um den so genannten "Dead-anyway"-Effekt zu berichtigen, der besagt, dass die WTP mit dem Ausgangswert des Risikos zunimmt, dem das befragte Individuum ausgesetzt ist. Dieser Effekt beruht allerdings auf der Abwesenheit vollkommener Märkte für bedingte Güter. Wir diskutieren zunächst die theoretischen Grundlagen des "Dead-anyway"-Effekts und schlagen dann einen neuen empirischen Test mittels der Beziehung zwischen Vermögen, Sterberisiko und Lebenszufriedenheit vor. Eine Anwendung des Tests an Hand zweier Sätze von Umfragedaten aus Deutschland und Australien ergibt keine Bestätigung für den von Pratt und Zeckhauser behaupteten Effekt. In a recent paper, Pratt and Zeckhauser (JPE, 1996) discuss the measure of individuals' willingness to pay (WTP) for the reduction of risks to their lives which should be used for public decisions on risk-reducing projects. They suggest to correct observed WTP for the "dead-anyway" effect, which says that WTP increases with the level of risk to which the individual is exposed - an effect which is due to the imperfection of contingent-claims markets. We first discuss the theoretical foundations of the asserted effect and then propose a new empirical test based on the relationship between wealth, life satisfaction and exposure to risk of dying. Application of the test using two sets of survey data from Germany and Australia.yields no support for the asserted dead-anyway effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedrich Breyer & Markus M. Grabka, 2001. "Is There a "Dead-Anyway" Effect in Willingness to Pay for Risk Reduction?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 252, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp252

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hammitt, James K & Graham, John D, 1999. "Willingness to Pay for Health Protection: Inadequate Sensitivity to Probability?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 33-62, April.
    2. Joni Hersch & W. Kip Viscusi, 1990. "Cigarette Smoking, Seatbelt Use, and Differences in Wage-Risk Tradeoffs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(2), pages 202-227.
    3. 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.
    4. Smith, V Kerry & Desvousges, William H, 1987. "An Empirical Analysis of the Economic Value of Risk Changes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 89-114, February.
    5. Pratt, John W & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1996. "Willingness to Pay and the Distribution of Risk and Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 747-763, August.
    6. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Friedrich Breyer & Stefan Felder, 2002. "The Dead-Anyway Effect Revis(it)ed," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 302, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Strand, Jon, 2006. "Valuation of environmental improvements in continuous time with mortality and morbidity effects," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 229-241, August.

    More about this item


    value of statistical life; mortality risk; contingent-claims markets;

    JEL classification:

    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate


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