Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 5–76

The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates Throughout the World

  • W. Kip Viscusi
  • Joseph E. Aldy

DOI: 10.1023/A:1025598106257

Cite this article as:
Viscusi, W.K. & Aldy, J.E. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty (2003) 27: 5. doi:10.1023/A:1025598106257


A substantial literature over the past thirty years has evaluated tradeoffs between money and fatality risks. These values in turn serve as estimates of the value of a statistical life. This article reviews more than 60 studies of mortality risk premiums from ten countries and approximately 40 studies that present estimates of injury risk premiums. This critical review examines a variety of econometric issues, the role of unionization in risk premiums, and the effects of age on the value of a statistical life. Our meta-analysis indicates an income elasticity of the value of a statistical life from about 0.5 to 0.6. The paper also presents a detailed discussion of policy applications of these value of a statistical life estimates and related issues, including risk-risk analysis.

value of statistical lifecompensating differentialssafetyrisk-risk analysis

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Kip Viscusi
    • 1
  • Joseph E. Aldy
    • 2
  1. 1.Harvard Law SchoolCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsHarvard UniversityUSA