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Estimating the Value of a Statistical Life: The Importance of Omitted Variables and Publication Bias

Author

Listed:
  • Ashenfelter, Orley

    () (Princeton University)

  • Greenstone, Michael

    () (University of Chicago)

Abstract

In this paper we show that omitted variables and publication bias lead to severely biased estimates of the value of a statistical life. Although our empirical results are obtained in the context of a study of choices about road safety, we suspect that the same issues plague the estimation of monetary trade-offs regarding safety in other contexts.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashenfelter, Orley & Greenstone, Michael, 2004. "Estimating the Value of a Statistical Life: The Importance of Omitted Variables and Publication Bias," IZA Discussion Papers 1037, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1037
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Orley Ashenfelter & Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek, 1999. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/Earnings Relationship, with Tests for Publication Bias," Working Papers 804, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. Glenn C. Blomquist, 2004. "Self-Protection and Averting Behavior, Values of Statistical Lives, and Benefit Cost Analysis of Environmental Policy," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 89-110, March.
    4. Black, Dan A & Kniesner, Thomas J, 2003. "On the Measurement of Job Risk in Hedonic Wage Models," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 205-220, December.
    5. Richard Thaler & Sherwin Rosen, 1976. "The Value of Saving a Life: Evidence from the Labor Market," NBER Chapters,in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 265-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. repec:fth:prinin:425 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Using Mandated Speed Limits to Measure the Value of a Statistical Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 226-267, February.
    8. Ashenfelter, Orley & Harmon, Colm & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1999. "A review of estimates of the schooling/earnings relationship, with tests for publication bias," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 453-470, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    omitted variables bias; publication bias; value of a statistical life; speed limits; traffic safety;

    JEL classification:

    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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