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The Value of a Statistical Life: Evidence from Panel Data

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Abstract

Our research addresses fundamental long-standing concerns in the compensating wage differentials literature and its public policy implications: the econometric properties of estimates of the value of statistical life (VSL) and the wide range of such estimates from about $0 to almost $30 million. Here we address most of the prominent econometric issues by applying panel data, a new and more accurate fatality risk measure, and systematic application of panel data estimators. Controlling for measurement error, endogeneity, latent individual heterogeneity that may be correlated with the regressors, state dependence, and sample composition yields an estimated value of a statistical life of about $7 million–$12 million, which we show can clarify greatly the cost-effectiveness of regulatory decisions. We show that probably the most important econometric issue is controlling for latent heterogeneity; less important is how one does it.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:122
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Orley Ashenfelter, 2006. "Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 10-23, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Weiss, Yoram & Lillard, Lee A, 1978. "Experience, Vintage, and Time Effects in the Growth of Earnings: American Scientists, 1960-1970," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(3), pages 427-447, June.
    4. Michael P. Keane, 1993. "Individual Heterogeneity and Interindustry Wage Differentials," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(1), pages 134-161.
    5. Ivar Ekeland & James J. Heckman & Lars Nesheim, 2004. "Identification and Estimation of Hedonic Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 60-109, February.
    6. 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.
    7. 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 331-344, October.
    8. 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.
    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. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-445, March.
    11. Thomas J. Kniesner & John D. Leeth, 2004. "Data Mining Mining Data: MSHA Enforcement Efforts, Underground Coal Mine Safety, and New Health Policy Implications," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 83-111, September.
    12. 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.
    13. Charles Brown, 1980. "Equalizing Differences in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(1), pages 113-134.
    14. Hwang, Hae-shin & Reed, W Robert & Hubbard, Carlton, 1992. "Compensating Wage Differentials and Unobserved Productivity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 835-858, August.
    15. Kevin Lang & Sumon Majumdar, 2004. "The Pricing Of Job Characteristics When Markets Do Not Clear: Theory And Policy Implications," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1111-1128, November.
    16. 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.
    17. Anupam Jena & Casey Mulligan & Tomas J. Philipson & Eric Sun, 2008. "The Value of Life in General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 14157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    20. Spengler, Hannes & Schaffner, Sandra, 2007. "Using Job Changes to Evaluate the Bias of the Value of a Statistical Life," Ruhr Economic Papers 14, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    21. repec:dau:papers:123456789/6486 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Jason F. Shogren & Tommy Stamland, 2002. "Skill and the Value of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1168-1197, October.
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    25. W. Kip Viscusi & Joni Hersch, 2001. "Cigarette Smokers As Job Risk Takers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 269-280, May.
    26. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    VSL; panel data; fixed effects; random effects; long-differences; PSID;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)

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