Valuation_of_Life - Summary Value of Life lecture...

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Summary Value of Life lecture 25/05/2011 1 Value of Life Lectures: Revised outline, Dec. 2010 1. Decisions about policies that have implications for the risk to life arise in many fields – e.g. transport, health, climate change, and so on. How can the value of life be incorporated into any cost-benefit analysis [CBA] of such projects? 2. ‘Heroic’ view that cannot monetise value of life and so trade it off against other costs and benefits. Incommensurability. Or life is ‘sacred’, or Kantian view that human beings must be treated as ‘ends’ not ‘means’, etc. 3. But objections to the heroic view, such as that, for society as a whole, one is only talking about changing average expectation of duration of life – so life years and probability of losing or gaining a few days in everybody’s average expectation of life, which does not sound ‘sacred’. Also, talking not about a specific identified life, but a ‘statistical life’ – i.e. any project in a country with a population of 50 million, , say, 10 people will be killed, so that there is one in 5 million chance of being killed, not knowing in advance who. However, this objection is not decisive. Social function of preserving respect for life. Reflected in sentencing policy, for example, where same sentence for murder irrespective of age of victim. 4. Main objection to the heroic approach is that simply not feasible. Cannot turn over whole of national produce to make lives as safe - and as long as – is technically possible. So have to strike a balance between social value of respect for life and social cost of preserving lives or avoiding deaths. 5. Big problems in valuing life for purposes of project selection. CBA just shows that winners could compensate losers and have something left over, so if compensation is made would be a P-opt. move. But does not mean that B>C is good move since other considerations [notably income distribution]; or that if B<C is bad move, for same reason. Also, generally accepted that, in almost all cases, compensation either not feasible, or not paid anyway. And have to fall back on gains on swings offset losses on roundabouts in a large society with thousands of projects going on. But this does not apply to a policy that will entail some loss of lives, for IF
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This note was uploaded on 05/25/2011 for the course ECON 1001 taught by Professor Donaldberry during the Spring '09 term at UCL.

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Valuation_of_Life - Summary Value of Life lecture...

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