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Pricing Lives: International Guideposts for Safety

W Viscusi

The Economic Record, 2018, vol. 94, issue S1, 1-10

Abstract: Government agencies throughout the world use the value of a statistical life (VSL) to monetise the mortality risk reduction benefits of government policies. The most reliable empirical estimates of the VSL using US labour market data are about US$10 million (year 2015 US dollars). Based on international estimates of the income elasticity of the VSL, one can transfer these values to other countries, leading to my VSL estimate for Australia of US$7.9 million, or A$10.0 million, which is over double the current Australia best†practices value. Transferring US VSL estimates to other nations after accounting for income differences will boost global VSL estimates. Potential refinements of the VSL based on age and income are also feasible. The VSL could serve a pivotal role in promoting safety by valuing lives in litigation contexts, regulatory sanctions, and corporate risk analyses.

Date: 2018
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