The Cost of Saving a Statistical Life: A Case for Influenza Prevention and Control

  • Thomas W. SproulEmail author
  • David Zilberman
  • David Roland-Holst
  • Joachim Otte
Part of the Natural Resource Management and Policy book series (NRMP, volume 36)


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.


Gross Domestic Product Avian Influenza Influenza Pandemic Statistical Life Source Country 
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Copyright information

© Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas W. Sproul
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Zilberman
    • 2
  • David Roland-Holst
    • 2
  • Joachim Otte
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental & Natural Resource EconomicsUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Food and Agriculture Organization of the United NationsRomeItaly

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