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Measuring How Risk Tradeoffs Adjust With Income

  • Mary F. Evans
  • V. Kerry Smith

Efforts to reconcile inconsistencies between theory and estimates of the income elasticity of the value of a statistical life (IEVSL) overlook important restrictions implied by a more complete description of the individual choice problem. We develop a more general model of the IEVSL that reconciles some of the observed discrepancies. Our framework describes how exogenous income shocks, such as unexpected medical expenditures, may affect labor supply decisions which in turn influence both the coefficient of relative risk aversion and the IEVSL. The presence of a consumption commitment, such as a home mortgage, also alters this labor supply adjustment. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study to explore the responsiveness of labor force exit decisions to spousal health shocks and the role of a home mortgage as a constraint on this response.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15372.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15372
Note: EEE
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  1. Eeckhoudt, Louis R. & Hammitt, James K., 2004. "Does risk aversion increase the value of mortality risk?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 13-29, January.
  2. Carson, Richard T. & Hanemann, W. Michael, 2006. "Contingent Valuation," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 17, pages 821-936 Elsevier.
  3. Janusz R. Mrozek & Laura O. Taylor, 2002. "What determines the value of life? a meta-analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 253-270.
  4. Lisa Anderson & Jennifer Mellor, 2009. "Are risk preferences stable? Comparing an experimental measure with a validated survey-based measure," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 137-160, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2002. "Changes in the Value of Life: 1940-1980," NBER Working Papers 9396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  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. Courtney C. Coile, 2004. "Health Shocks and Couples' Labor Supply Decisions," NBER Working Papers 10810, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
  12. 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.
  13. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 831-877, 05.
  14. Hammitt, James K & Graham, John D, 1999. "Willingness to Pay for Health Protection: Inadequate Sensitivity to Probability?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 33-62, April.
  15. Weitzman, Martin L., 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," Scholarly Articles 3693423, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Dickie, Mark & Gerking, Shelby, 2007. "Altruism and environmental risks to health of parents and their children," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 323-341, May.
  17. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," NBER Working Papers 5570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Bowland, Brad J. & Beghin, John C., 2001. "Robust Estimates of Value of a Statistical Life for Developing Economies," Staff General Research Papers 5196, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  19. Raj Chetty, 2003. "A New Method of Estimating Risk Aversion," NBER Working Papers 9988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Smith, V. Kerry & Pattanayak, Subhrendu K. & Van Houtven, George L., 2003. "VSL reconsidered: what do labor supply estimates reveal about risk preferences?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 147-153, August.
  21. Mary Evans & V. Kerry Smith, 2008. "Complementarity and the Measurement of Individual Risk Tradeoffs: Accounting for Quantity and Quality of Life Effects," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 41(3), pages 381-400, November.
  22. V. Kerry Smith & Mary F. Evans & Hyun Kim & Donald H. Taylor, 2004. "Do the Near-Elderly Value Mortality Risks Differently?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 423-429, February.
  23. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. 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.
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