The Value of Statistical Life and Cost-Benefit Evaluations of Landmine Clearance in Cambodia
Development agencies spend approximately US$400 million per year on landmine clearance. Yet many cost-benefit evaluations suggest that landmine clearance is socially wasteful because costs appear to far outweigh social benefits. This paper presents new estimates of the benefits of clearing landmines based on a contingent valuation survey in two provinces in rural Cambodia where we asked respondents questions that elicit their tradeoffs between money and the risk of death from landmine accidents. The estimated Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) is US$0.4 million. In contrast, most previous studies of landmine clearance use foregone income or average GDP per capita, which has a lifetime value of only US$2,000 in Cambodia. Humanitarian landmine clearance emerges as a more attractive rural development policy when appropriate estimates of the VSL are used.
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