Understanding the Value Per Statistical Life

Headshot of Lisa Robinson.

The Society for Risk Analysis recently featured a webinar, “Valuing Statistical Lives: Concepts, Current Practices, and Challenges,” led by CHDS researcher Lisa A. Robinson. Many policies aim to improve longevity, decreasing the risk of death in each year. The value of this risk change is often expressed as the value per statistical life (VSL), a term that is widely misunderstood. It is not the value that the analyst, the government, or the individual places on saving an identified life with certainty. Instead, it reflects individuals’ willingness to exchange their own money for a small change in their own risk, such as a 1 in 10,000 decrease in the chance of dying in a specific year. In this webinar, Ms. Robinson discusses the underlying conceptual framework, current practices, and key challenges.

Learn more: Valuing Mortality Risk Reductions in Global Benefit-Cost Analysis
Learn more: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Guidelines for Regulatory Impact Analysis

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