The Cost of Saving a Statistical Life: A Case for Influenza Prevention and Control
Billions of dollars have been spent on reducing the likelihood and severity of influenza pandemics originating in domesticated animals. These investments have global public-good properties and have to be shared. This chapter provides guidance for evaluating the benefits of flu-prevention expenditures and sharing their costs. Investments are valued by their implied statistical value of a life saved and are compared to a global average value that we construct. The results suggest that, if a $10 billion annual investment reduces the expected fatalities of a pandemic by 10%, then it is a reasonable or even very good investment. Our figures suggest that the United States should cover 20% and China 11% of the global public-good investment in flu risk reduction.
KeywordsGross Domestic Product Avian Influenza Influenza Pandemic Statistical Life Source Country
- CIA World Factbook, (2008). Cited 12 May, 2009. Available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/.
- Lichtenberg, E., and D. Zilberman. “Efficient Regulation of Environmental Health Risks,” “Quarterly J Econ,” CIII (February, 1988): 167–178.Google Scholar
- Simonsen, L., M. Clarke, L. Schonberger, N. Arden, N. Cox, and K. Fukuda. “Pandemic versus Epidemic Influenza Mortality: A Pattern of Changing Age Distribution.” J Infect Dis 178 (1998): 53–60.Google Scholar
- Taubenberger, J., and D. Morens. “1918 Influenza: The Mother of All Pandemics.” Emerg Infect Dis 12 (2006): 15–22.Google Scholar
- WHO. “Assessing the Severity of an Influenza Pandemic” (May, 2009a). Available at http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/assess/disease_swineflu_assess_20090511/en/index.html.
- WHO. “Pandemic Preparedness” (May, 2009b). Available at http://www.who.int/csr/disease/influenza/pandemic/en/index.html.