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Are Some Lives More Valuable?

Author

Listed:
  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

  • Martinsson, Peter

    () (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

A theoretical model of the ethical preferences of individuals is tested by conducting a choice experiment on safety-enhancing road investments. The relative value of a saved life is found to decrease with age, such that the present value of a saved year of life is almost independent of age at a pure rate of time preference of a few percent, and a saved car driver is valued 17-31% lower than a pedestrian of the same age. Moreover, individuals’ ethical preferences seem to be fairly homogenous.

Suggested Citation

  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2003. "Are Some Lives More Valuable?," Working Papers in Economics 96, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0096
    Note: Published in Journal of Health Economics, 2208, Vol. 27, pp. 739-752.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kahneman, Daniel & Ritov, Ilana & Schkade, David A, 1999. "Economic Preferences or Attitude Expressions?: An Analysis of Dollar Responses to Public Issues," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 203-235, December.
    2. Anand, Paul & Wailoo, Allan, 2000. "Utilities versus Rights to Publicly Provided Goods: Arguments and Evidence from Health Care Rationing," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 67(268), pages 543-577, November.
    3. Cropper, Maureen L & Aydede, Sema K & Portney, Paul R, 1994. "Preferences for Life Saving Programs: How the Public Discounts Time and Age," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 243-265, May.
    4. Broome,John, 1999. "Ethics out of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521642750, May.
    5. Johannesson, Magnus & Johansson, Per-Olov, 1997. "Is the valuation of a QALY gained independent of age? Some empirical evidence," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 589-599, October.
    6. Johannesson, Magnus & Johansson, Per-Olov, 1997. "Quality of life and the WTP for an increased life expectancy at an advanced age," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 219-228, August.
    7. Louviere,Jordan J. & Hensher,David A. & Swait,Joffre D., 2000. "Stated Choice Methods," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521788304, May.
    8. Hausman, Daniel M & McPherson, Michael S, 1993. "Taking Ethics Seriously: Economics and Contemporary Moral Philosophy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 671-731, June.
    9. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
    10. Alberini Anna, 1995. "Optimal Designs for Discrete Choice Contingent Valuation Surveys: Single-Bound, Double-Bound, and Bivariate Models," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 287-306, May.
    11. Sen, Amartya K, 1979. "Personal Utilities and Public Judgements: Or What's Wrong with Welfare Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(355), pages 537-558, September.
    12. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
    13. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
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    15. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hammar, Henrik & Jagers, Sverker C., 2007. "What is a fair CO2 tax increase? On fair emission reductions in the transport sector," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 377-387, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ethics; social preferences; individual social welfare function; relative value of life; random ethical model;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income

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