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

Author

Listed:
  • Orley Ashenfelter

    (Princeton University and NBER)

  • Michael Greenstone

    (MIT, American Bar Foundation and NBER)

Abstract

Measures of public preferences toward risk are critical to evaluations of public policies on many safety, environmental, and health issues. In this paper we provide a method for measuring the revealed preferences for safety risks from state level public choices about speed limits. The idea is to measure the value of the time saved per incremental fatality that results from the voluntary adoption of an increased speed limit. Since adopters must have valued the time saved by greater speeds more than the fatalities created, this ratio provides a convincing and credible upper bound on the value of a statistical life (VSL).

Suggested Citation

  • Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Estimating the Value of a Statistical Life: The Importance of Omitted Variables and Publication Bias," Working Papers 105, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:cepsud:97ashenfelter.pdf
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    File URL: http://www.princeton.edu/ceps/workingpapers/97ashenfelter.pdf
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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

    JEL classification:

    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics

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