On the definition and estimation of the value of a “statistical life”
The presentation will discuss the economic meaning of the concept of the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) and review some of its properties. In particular, the age pattern of the VSL is considered. The presentation will also review recent estimates of the magnitude of a VSL taken from different countries and cultures. The value of preventing a fatality or (saving) a statistical life is an important question in health economics as well as environmental economics. This paper reviews several of the issues discussed in the literature. For example, how do we define the value of a (statistical) life? Are there really strong theoretical reasons for believing that the value of a life declines with age? The paper derives definitions of the value of a statistical life in both single-period models and life-cycle models. Models with and without actuarially fair annuities are examined, as well as the age-profile of the value of a statistical life
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