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Policy Relevant Heterogeneity in the Value of Statistical Life: New Evidence from Panel Data Quantile Regressions

We examine differences in the value of statistical life (VSL) across potential wage levels in panel data using quantile regressions with intercept heterogeneity. Latent heterogeneity is econometrically important and affects the estimated VSL. Our findings indicate that a reasonable average cost per expected life saved cut-off for health and safety regulations is $7 million to $8 million per life saved, but the VSL varies considerably cross the labor force. Our results reconcile the previous discrepancies betweenhedonic VSL estimates and the values implied by theories linked to the coefficient of relative risk aversion. Because the VSL varies elastically with income, regulatory agencies should regularly update the VSL used in benefit assessments, increasing the VSL proportionally with changes in income over time.

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Paper provided by Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University in its series Center for Policy Research Working Papers with number 118.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:118
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  1. Mary Evans & V. Smith, 2010. "Measuring how risk tradeoffs adjust with income," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 33-55, February.
  2. Thomas J. Kniesner & James P. Ziliak, 2002. "Tax Reform and Automatic Stabilization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 590-612, June.
  3. 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 205-20, December.
  4. Louis Kaplow, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life and the Coefficient of Relative Risk Aversion," NBER Working Papers 9852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Raj Chetty, 2009. "The Simple Economics of Salience and Taxation," NBER Working Papers 15246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2010. "The Value of a Statistical Life: Evidence from Panel Data," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 122, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  7. Rachel Baker & Susan Chilton & Michael Jones-Lee & Hugh Metcalf, 2008. "Valuing lives equally: Defensible premise or unwarranted compromise?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 125-138, April.
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  9. W. Kip Viscusi & Joseph E. Aldy, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," NBER Working Papers 9487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Viscusi, W Kip & Evans, William N, 1990. "Utility Functions That Depend on Health Status: Estimates and Economic Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 353-74, June.
  11. Eeckhoudt, Louis R & Hammitt, James K, 2001. " Background Risks and the Value of a Statistical Life," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 261-79, November.
  12. Stuart Dorsey & Norman Walzer, 1983. "Workers' compensation, job hazards, and wages," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 36(4), pages 642-654, July.
  13. Raj Chetty, 2006. "A New Method of Estimating Risk Aversion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1821-1834, December.
  14. Charles F. Manski, 2010. "When consensus choice dominates individualism: Jensen's inequality and collective decisions under uncertainty," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(1), pages 187-202, 07.
  15. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-46, December.
  16. W. Viscusi, 2009. "Valuing risks of death from terrorism and natural disasters," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 191-213, June.
  17. W. Kip Viscusi, 2004. "The Value of Life: Estimates with Risks by Occupation and Industry," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 29-48, January.
  18. Joseph E. Aldy & W. Kip Viscusi, 2008. "Adjusting the Value of a Statistical Life for Age and Cohort Effects," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 573-581, August.
  19. Mellow, Wesley & Sider, Hal, 1983. "Accuracy of Response in Labor Market Surveys: Evidence and Implications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 331-44, October.
  20. Ziliak, James P., 1998. "Does the choice of consumption measure matter? An application to the permanent-income hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 201-216, February.
  21. James P. Ziliak & Thomas J. Kniesner, 1998. "The Importance of Sample Attrition in Life Cycle Labor Supply Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 507-530.
  22. Craig A. Olson, 1981. "An Analysis of Wage Differentials Received by Workers on Dangerous Jobs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 16(2), pages 167-185.
  23. Koenker, Roger, 2004. "Quantile regression for longitudinal data," Journal of Multivariate Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 74-89, October.
  24. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
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