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Are estimates of the value of a statistical life exaggerated?

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  • Doucouliagos, Hristos
  • Stanley, T. D.
  • Giles, Margaret

Abstract

The magnitude of the value of a statistical life (VSL) is critical to the evaluation of many health and safety initiatives. To date, the large and rigorous VSL research literature has not explicitly accommodated publication selectivity bias (i.e., the reduced probability that insignificant or negative VSL values are reported). This study demonstrates that doing so is essential. For studies that employ hedonic wage equations to estimate VSL, correction for selection bias reduces the average value of a statistical life by 70–80%. Our meta-regression analysis also identifies several sources for the wide heterogeneity found among reported VSL estimates.
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Suggested Citation

  • Doucouliagos, Hristos & Stanley, T. D. & Giles, Margaret, 2011. "Are estimates of the value of a statistical life exaggerated?," Working Papers eco_2011_2, Deakin University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:dkn:econwp:eco_2011_2
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.10.001
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    1. T.D. Stanley & Hristos Doucouliagos, 2010. "Picture This: A Simple Graph That Reveals Much Ado About Research," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(1), pages 170-191, February.
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    27. Hristos Doucouliagos & T. D. Stanley, 2009. "Publication Selection Bias in Minimum‐Wage Research? A Meta‐Regression Analysis," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(2), pages 406-428, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Value of statistical life; meta-regression analysis; selectivity bias;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • C20 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - General

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