News

April 11, 2018

By W. Kip Viscusi

Proper application of the value of a statistical life (VSL) is essential to preventing the systematic undervaluation of life throughout the world. The values used by U.S. federal agencies to monetize prospective risk reductions formerly were too low but have increased over time and are now in a range consistent with the economic literature. However, the values agencies assign to fatalities in setting regulatory sanctions are extremely low—often a fraction of the current estimates for VSL estimates used in regulatory contexts. Further, other countries still monetize risk reductions using techniques that undervalue life relative to VSL estimates. 

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