Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 213–233 | Cite as

Measures of Mortality Risks



Different risks of death are not equivalent because of differences in timing. This paper develops measures of mortality risks that recognize the probability of death, the duration of life lost, and the role of discounting. These adjustments lead to a substantial reordering of the major causes of death. Recognition of duration-related issues explains much of the public's misperception of mortality risk probabilities, which may reflect duration-related concerns rather than biases in risk beliefs. Our estimates suggest that in forming their risk beliefs the public discounts years of life lost at a rate from 3.3–12.4 percent. Standardization of lifetimes at risk also alters the relative efficacy of regulatory policies for which we provide a variety of cost-effectiveness measures.

risk perception mortality risks value of life rates of time preference 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Harvard Law SchoolCambridge
  2. 2.Program on Empirical Legal StudiesHarvard Law SchoolUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyUSA

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