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Using Job Changes to Evaluate the Bias of the Value of a Statistical Life

Author

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  • Hannes Spengler
  • Sandra Schaffner

Abstract

This paper presents a new approach to obtain unbiased estimates of the value of a statistical life (VSL) with labor market data. Investigating job changes, we combine the advantages of recent panel studies, which allow to control for unobserved heterogeneity of workers, and conventional cross-sectional estimations, which primarily exploit the variation of wage and risk between different jobs. We find a VSL of 6.1 million euros from pooled cross-sectional estimation, 1.9 million euros from the static first-differences panel model and 3.5 million euros from the job-changer specification. Thus, ignoring individual heterogeneity causes overestimates of the VSL, whereas identifying the wage-risk tradeoff not only by means of between job variation (job-changer model) but also on the basis of noisy variation on the job (panel models) may lead to underestimates of the VSL. Our results can be used to perform cost-benefit analyses of public projects aimed at reducing fatality risks, e.g., in the domains of health, environmental or traffic policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Hannes Spengler & Sandra Schaffner, 2007. "Using Job Changes to Evaluate the Bias of the Value of a Statistical Life," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 713, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp713
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    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. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2006. "Pinning Down the Value of Statistical Life," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 85, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    4. Jason F. Shogren & Tommy Stamland, 2002. "Skill and the Value of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1168-1197, October.
    5. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    6. Schaffner, Sandra & Spengler, Hannes, 2005. "Der Einfluss unbeobachteter Heterogenität auf kompensatorische Lohndifferentiale und den Wert eines statistischen Lebens: Eine mikroökonometrische Parallelanalyse mit IABS und SOEP," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 152, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
    7. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2005. "How Unobservable Productivity Biases the Value of a Statistical Life," NBER Working Papers 11659, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jorge Eduardo Martínez Pérez & Ildefonso Méndez Martínez, 2009. "¿Qué podemos saber sobre el Valor Estadístico de la Vida en España utilizando datos laborales?," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 191(4), pages 73-93, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Leiter, Andrea & Thöni, Magdalena & Winner, Hannes, 2012. "Evaluating human life using court decisions on damages for pain and suffering," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 119-128.
    4. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2006. "Pinning Down the Value of Statistical Life," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 85, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Value of a statistical life (VSL); compensating wage differentials; work accidents; job changes;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General

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