value of life

W. Kip Viscusi
From The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition, 2008
Edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume
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The economic approach to valuing risks to life focuses on risk–money trade-offs for very small risks of death, or the value of statistical life (VSL). These VSL levels will generally exceed the optimal insurance amounts. A substantial literature has estimated the wage–fatality risk trade-offs, implying a median VSL of $7 million for US workers. International evidence often indicates a lower VSL, which is consistent with the lower income levels in less developed countries. Preference heterogeneity also generates different trade-off rates across the population as people who are more willing to bear risk will exhibit lower wage–risk trade-offs.
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How to cite this article

Kip Viscusi, W. "value of life." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 24 November 2017 <> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.1784

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