IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Life, Death and World Inequality


  • Cordoba, Juan Carlos
  • Ripoll, Marla


Life expectancy around the world has increased substantially since 1970. In contrast, consump-tion per capita has fallen in some countries, remained stagnant, or sharply increased in others.What are the welfare gains of the systematic increase in life expectancy around the world? Howdoes a "full measure" of per capita income, one that adjusts for life expectancy, compare tostandard measures of world inequality that only consider income? This paper documents howstandard models used to answer these questions give rise to a number of predictions that areinconsistent with well-documented evidence, particularly on the value of statistical life. It thenproposes a generalized model with non-separable preferences that exhibits a low elasticity ofintertemporal substitution and a low degree of mortality aversion. The non-separable modelreverts the counterfactual predictions of the standard model, and it also provides plausiblemeasures of changes in welfare and inequality around the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Cordoba, Juan Carlos & Ripoll, Marla, 2012. "Life, Death and World Inequality," Staff General Research Papers Archive 34945, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:34945

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 277-291, March.
    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. Charles I. Jones & Peter J. Klenow, 2016. "Beyond GDP? Welfare across Countries and Time," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(9), pages 2426-2457, September.
    4. Dan Usher, 1973. "The Measurement of Economic Growth," Working Papers 145, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    5. Philippe Weil, 1990. "Nonexpected Utility in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 29-42.
    6. Rosen, Sherwin, 1988. "The Value of Changes in Life Expectancy," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 285-304, September.
    7. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 2007. "The Value of Life and the Rise in Health Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 39-72.
    8. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
    9. 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.
    10. Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 2006. "The Value of Health and Longevity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 871-904, October.
    11. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1989. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: A Theoretical Framework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 937-969, July.
    12. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Juan Cordoba, 2012. "Children and the Wealth of Nations," 2012 Meeting Papers 1052, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item


    Welfare; life expectancy; value of statistical life; mortality risk aversion; Epstein-Zin-Weil pref- erences; AIDS.;

    JEL classification:

    • D - Microeconomics
    • J - Labor and Demographic Economics

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:isu:genres:34945. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Curtis Balmer). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.