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Context and the VSL: Evidence from a Stated Preference Study in Italy and the Czech Republic


  • Anna Alberini

    (University of Maryland and FEEM)

  • Milan Šcasný

    (Charles University Prague)


We report on the results of a survey based on conjoint choice experiments that was specifically designed to investigate the effect of context on the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL), an important input into the calculation of the mortality benefits of environmental policies that reduce premature mortality. We define “context” broadly to include i) the cause of death (respiratory illness, cancer, road traffic accident), ii) the beneficiary of the risk reduction (adult v. child), and iii) the mode of provision of the risk reduction (public program v. private good). The survey was conducted following similar protocols in Italy and the Czech Republic. When do not distinguish for the cause of death, child and adult VSL are not significantly different from one another in Italy, and the difference is weak in the Czech sample. When we distinguish for the cause of death, we find that child and adult VSLs are different at the 1% level for respiratory illnesses and road-traffic accidents, but do not differ for cancer risks. We find evidence of a “cancer premium” and a “public program premium.” In both countries, the marginal utility of income is about 20% lower among wealthier people, which makes the VSL about 20% higher among respondents with incomes above the sample average. The discount rate implicit in people‘s choices is effectively zero. We conclude that there is heterogeneity in the VSL, and that such heterogeneity is primarily driven by risk characteristics and mode of delivery of the risk reduction, rather than by individual characteristics of the respondent (e.g., income and education). For the most part, our results do not disagree with environmental policy analyses that use the same VSL for children and adults, and that apply a cancer premium.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Alberini & Milan Šcasný, 2010. "Context and the VSL: Evidence from a Stated Preference Study in Italy and the Czech Republic," Working Papers 2010.66, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2010.66

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    Cited by:

    1. Andersson, Henrik & Hole, Arne Risa & Svensson, Mikael, 2016. "Valuation of small and multiple health risks: A critical analysis of SP data applied to food and water safety," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 41-53.
    2. Rebecca L. McDonald & Susan M. Chilton & Michael W. Jones-Lee & Hugh R. T. Metcalf, 2016. "Dread and latency impacts on a VSL for cancer risk reductions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 137-161, April.
    3. Anna Alberini & Milan Ščasný, 2021. "On the validity of the estimates of the VSL from contingent valuation: Evidence from the Czech Republic," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 62(1), pages 55-87, February.
    4. Dennis Guignet & Anna Alberini, 2015. "Can Property Values Capture Changes in Environmental Health Risks? Evidence from a Stated Preference Study in Italy and the United Kingdom," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 35(3), pages 501-517, March.
    5. Gerking, Shelby & Dickie, Mark & Veronesi, Marcella, 2014. "Valuation of human health: An integrated model of willingness to pay for mortality and morbidity risk reductions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 20-45.
    6. Carla Guerriero & John Cairns & Fabrizio Bianchi & Liliana Cori, 2018. "Are children rational decision makers when they are asked to value their own health? A contingent valuation study conducted with children and their parents," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2), pages 55-68, February.
    7. Balmford, Ben & Bateman, Ian J. & Bolt, Katherine & Day, Brett & Ferrini, Silvia, 2019. "The value of statistical life for adults and children: Comparisons of the contingent valuation and chained approaches," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 68-84.
    8. Robinson, Lisa A. & Raich, William & Hammitt, James K., 2019. "Valuing Children’s Fatality Risk Reductions," TSE Working Papers 19-1018, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    9. Wiktor Adamowicz & Mark Dickie & Shelby Gerking & Marcella Veronesi & David Zinner, 2014. "Household Decision Making and Valuation of Environmental Health Risks to Parents and Their Children," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 481-519.
    10. Liz Morrell & Sarah Wordsworth & Sian Rees & Richard Barker, 2017. "Does the Public Prefer Health Gain for Cancer Patients? A Systematic Review of Public Views on Cancer and its Characteristics," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 35(8), pages 793-804, August.
    11. Grisolía, José M. & Longo, Alberto & Hutchinson, George & Kee, Frank, 2018. "Comparing mortality risk reduction, life expectancy gains, and probability of achieving full life span, as alternatives for presenting CVD mortality risk reduction: A discrete choice study of framing ," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 211(C), pages 164-174.
    12. Andrew Meyer, 2013. "Intertemporal Valuation of River Restoration," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 54(1), pages 41-61, January.
    13. Lew, Daniel K., 2018. "Discounting future payments in stated preference choice experiments," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 150-164.
    14. Jin, Yana & Andersson, Henrik & Zhang, Shiqiu, 2020. "Do preferences to reduce health risks related to air pollution depend on illness type? Evidence from a choice experiment in Beijing, China," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 103(C).
    15. Vásquez-Lavín, Felipe & Carrasco, Moisés & Barrientos, Manuel & Gelcich, Stefan & Ponce Oliva, Roberto D., 2021. "Estimating discount rates for environmental goods: Are People’s responses inadequate to frequency of payments?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 107(C).
    16. Mahasuweerachai, Phumsith & Pangjai, Siwarut, 2016. "Scope Insensitivity in Child's Health Risk Reduction: A Comparison of Damage Schedule and Choice Experiment Methods," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235577, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    17. Howard, Gregory & Whitehead, John C. & Hochard, Jacob, 2021. "Estimating discount rates using referendum-style choice experiments: An analysis of multiple methodologies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 105(C).
    18. Dardanoni, Valentino & Guerriero, Carla, 2021. "Young people' s willingness to pay for environmental protection," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).
    19. Gregory Howard & John C. Whitehead & Jacob Hochard, 2020. "Estimating Discount Rates Using Referendum-style Choice Experiments: An Analysis of Multiple Methods," Working Papers 20-01, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    20. Jytte Seested Nielsen & Susan Chilton & Hugh Metcalf, 2019. "Improving the risk–risk trade-off method for use in safety project appraisal responses," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 21(1), pages 61-86, January.

    More about this item


    VSL; Conjoint Choice Experiments; Mortality Risk Reductions; Cost-benefit Analysis; Forced Choice Questions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects

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