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Valuing lives equally: Distributional weights for welfare analysis

  • E.Somanathan

    ()

    (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi
    Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

Cost-benefit analysis as performed by governments and public-sector organisations typically applies equal weights to changes in incomes accruing to individuals from projects even when there is no proposal to compensate losers. One reason for the use of equal weights despite the absence of a theoretical justification for this practice is that all weights appear arbitrary. This note proposes the use of weights based on two axioms: (1) that all lives should be equally valued, and (2) that the monetary value attached to a person's life should be his or her own. This implies weights that are proportional to the reciprocals of the values of statistical lives

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File URL: http://www.isid.ac.in/~pu/dispapers/dp03-02.pdf
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Paper provided by Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India in its series Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers with number 03-02.

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Length: 5 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:03-02
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  1. Azar, Christian & Sterner, Thomas, 1996. "Discounting and distributional considerations in the context of global warming," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 169-184, November.
  2. Dreze, Jean & Stern, Nicholas, 1987. "The theory of cost-benefit analysis," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 14, pages 909-989 Elsevier.
  3. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931, March.
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