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What Are Your Values? - Decision-Making Skills from.


The value of life is an economic value used to quantify the benefit of avoiding a fatality. [1] It is also referred to as the cost of life, value of preventing a fatality (VPF) and implied cost of averting a fatality (ICAF). In social and political sciences , it is the marginal cost of death prevention in a certain class of circumstances. [ citation needed ] In many studies the value also includes the quality of life, the expected life time remaining, as well as the earning potential of a given person especially for an after the fact payment in a wrongful death claim lawsuit .

As such, it is a statistical term, the cost of reducing the average number of deaths by one. It is an important issue in a wide range of disciplines including economics , health care , adoption , political economy , insurance , worker safety , environmental impact assessment , and globalization . [ citation needed ]

In industrial nations, the justice system considers a human life "priceless", thus illegalizing any form of slavery; i.e., humans cannot be bought at any price. However, with a limited supply of resources or infrastructural capital (e.g. ambulances), or skill at hand, it is impossible to save every life, so some trade-off must be made. Also, this argumentation neglects the statistical context of the term. It is not commonly attached to lives of individuals or used to compare the value of one person's life relative to another person's. It is mainly used in circumstances of saving lives as opposed to taking lives or "producing" lives. [ citation needed ]

Economists often estimate the VSL by looking at the risks that people are voluntarily willing to take and how much they must be paid for taking them. [3] These types of studies, which look at a person's actual choices, are known as revealed preference studies. A common source of such choices is the labor market, where jobs with greater risk of death are seen to correlate with higher wages. [ citation needed ] , but has shown to be non linear.

Much of this research uses a wage hedonic approach, which looks at how wages change with changes in job characteristics. Such studies regress wages on job characteristics like risk of death, occupation, industry, risk of injury, location, etc. [ citation needed ] By controlling for as many job characteristics as possible, researchers hope to tease out the portion of the wage that is compensating for the risk of death on the job. A recent summary of this literature is the 2003 paper by Viscusi and Aldy. [4]

Another method economists can use to estimate the VSL is by simply asking people (e.g. through questionnaires) how much they would be willing to pay for a reduction in the likelihood of dying, perhaps by purchasing safety improvements. These types of studies are referred to as stated preference studies. A well known problem with this method is the so-called " hypothetical bias ", whereby people tend to overstate their valuation of goods and services. [5]

We hear a lot of public agonizing from Washington and the chattering classes about the “infinite” value of a “priceless” human life. Unless it’s a Muslim accused of terrorism, in which case they should be dispatched post haste. It’s a highly charged subject, where anyone questioning the proposition risks being considered both unpatriotic and morally depraved – for that reason it’s not analyzed closely.

But that is, perhaps, one of the best reasons why we should dissect it. I think it’s important to use words like “infinite” and “priceless” with care and precision. Because if a word can’t be defined accurately, then an idea is expressed inaccurately. Thinking becomes fuzzy, and logic breaks down when people don’t know what they’re talking about.

When people say something at variance with reality they create a lie, and the reason lies persist is because no one confronts and analyzes them. Lies, no matter how pretty or elegant they may seem at the time, are always destructive.

What is a human life worth to you? Let’s take the emaciated Ethiopian (strike that dated image: The child is now Afghani, and will probably soon mutate into an Iraqi, then a Sudanese) whose photo graces the foster-parent ads in many magazines. A dollar a month? You’d probably say “of course,” even if you neglected the chance to send in your check the last time you saw her. How about $10? Sure. $100? Maybe. $1,000? Almost certainly not.

So that child’s life actually has a real dollar value to the person who’s going to write the check. Forget the generalities about infinite value. That only washes if you’re spending other people’s money, which effectively has no value.

What if the kids you save later decide that they have to wipe out the rest of their country’s rhinos and rain forest in order to survive? Maybe, quite candidly, you’d rather have the rain forest around than the kids. The concept of infinite value of a human life leads to a sense of cognitive dissonance in the light of the real world.

The value of life is an economic value used to quantify the benefit of avoiding a fatality. [1] It is also referred to as the cost of life, value of preventing a fatality (VPF) and implied cost of averting a fatality (ICAF). In social and political sciences , it is the marginal cost of death prevention in a certain class of circumstances. [ citation needed ] In many studies the value also includes the quality of life, the expected life time remaining, as well as the earning potential of a given person especially for an after the fact payment in a wrongful death claim lawsuit .

As such, it is a statistical term, the cost of reducing the average number of deaths by one. It is an important issue in a wide range of disciplines including economics , health care , adoption , political economy , insurance , worker safety , environmental impact assessment , and globalization . [ citation needed ]

In industrial nations, the justice system considers a human life "priceless", thus illegalizing any form of slavery; i.e., humans cannot be bought at any price. However, with a limited supply of resources or infrastructural capital (e.g. ambulances), or skill at hand, it is impossible to save every life, so some trade-off must be made. Also, this argumentation neglects the statistical context of the term. It is not commonly attached to lives of individuals or used to compare the value of one person's life relative to another person's. It is mainly used in circumstances of saving lives as opposed to taking lives or "producing" lives. [ citation needed ]

Economists often estimate the VSL by looking at the risks that people are voluntarily willing to take and how much they must be paid for taking them. [3] These types of studies, which look at a person's actual choices, are known as revealed preference studies. A common source of such choices is the labor market, where jobs with greater risk of death are seen to correlate with higher wages. [ citation needed ] , but has shown to be non linear.

Much of this research uses a wage hedonic approach, which looks at how wages change with changes in job characteristics. Such studies regress wages on job characteristics like risk of death, occupation, industry, risk of injury, location, etc. [ citation needed ] By controlling for as many job characteristics as possible, researchers hope to tease out the portion of the wage that is compensating for the risk of death on the job. A recent summary of this literature is the 2003 paper by Viscusi and Aldy. [4]

Another method economists can use to estimate the VSL is by simply asking people (e.g. through questionnaires) how much they would be willing to pay for a reduction in the likelihood of dying, perhaps by purchasing safety improvements. These types of studies are referred to as stated preference studies. A well known problem with this method is the so-called " hypothetical bias ", whereby people tend to overstate their valuation of goods and services. [5]

We hear a lot of public agonizing from Washington and the chattering classes about the “infinite” value of a “priceless” human life. Unless it’s a Muslim accused of terrorism, in which case they should be dispatched post haste. It’s a highly charged subject, where anyone questioning the proposition risks being considered both unpatriotic and morally depraved – for that reason it’s not analyzed closely.

But that is, perhaps, one of the best reasons why we should dissect it. I think it’s important to use words like “infinite” and “priceless” with care and precision. Because if a word can’t be defined accurately, then an idea is expressed inaccurately. Thinking becomes fuzzy, and logic breaks down when people don’t know what they’re talking about.

When people say something at variance with reality they create a lie, and the reason lies persist is because no one confronts and analyzes them. Lies, no matter how pretty or elegant they may seem at the time, are always destructive.

What is a human life worth to you? Let’s take the emaciated Ethiopian (strike that dated image: The child is now Afghani, and will probably soon mutate into an Iraqi, then a Sudanese) whose photo graces the foster-parent ads in many magazines. A dollar a month? You’d probably say “of course,” even if you neglected the chance to send in your check the last time you saw her. How about $10? Sure. $100? Maybe. $1,000? Almost certainly not.

So that child’s life actually has a real dollar value to the person who’s going to write the check. Forget the generalities about infinite value. That only washes if you’re spending other people’s money, which effectively has no value.

What if the kids you save later decide that they have to wipe out the rest of their country’s rhinos and rain forest in order to survive? Maybe, quite candidly, you’d rather have the rain forest around than the kids. The concept of infinite value of a human life leads to a sense of cognitive dissonance in the light of the real world.

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The value of life is an economic value used to quantify the benefit of avoiding a fatality. [1] It is also referred to as the cost of life, value of preventing a fatality (VPF) and implied cost of averting a fatality (ICAF). In social and political sciences , it is the marginal cost of death prevention in a certain class of circumstances. [ citation needed ] In many studies the value also includes the quality of life, the expected life time remaining, as well as the earning potential of a given person especially for an after the fact payment in a wrongful death claim lawsuit .

As such, it is a statistical term, the cost of reducing the average number of deaths by one. It is an important issue in a wide range of disciplines including economics , health care , adoption , political economy , insurance , worker safety , environmental impact assessment , and globalization . [ citation needed ]

In industrial nations, the justice system considers a human life "priceless", thus illegalizing any form of slavery; i.e., humans cannot be bought at any price. However, with a limited supply of resources or infrastructural capital (e.g. ambulances), or skill at hand, it is impossible to save every life, so some trade-off must be made. Also, this argumentation neglects the statistical context of the term. It is not commonly attached to lives of individuals or used to compare the value of one person's life relative to another person's. It is mainly used in circumstances of saving lives as opposed to taking lives or "producing" lives. [ citation needed ]

Economists often estimate the VSL by looking at the risks that people are voluntarily willing to take and how much they must be paid for taking them. [3] These types of studies, which look at a person's actual choices, are known as revealed preference studies. A common source of such choices is the labor market, where jobs with greater risk of death are seen to correlate with higher wages. [ citation needed ] , but has shown to be non linear.

Much of this research uses a wage hedonic approach, which looks at how wages change with changes in job characteristics. Such studies regress wages on job characteristics like risk of death, occupation, industry, risk of injury, location, etc. [ citation needed ] By controlling for as many job characteristics as possible, researchers hope to tease out the portion of the wage that is compensating for the risk of death on the job. A recent summary of this literature is the 2003 paper by Viscusi and Aldy. [4]

Another method economists can use to estimate the VSL is by simply asking people (e.g. through questionnaires) how much they would be willing to pay for a reduction in the likelihood of dying, perhaps by purchasing safety improvements. These types of studies are referred to as stated preference studies. A well known problem with this method is the so-called " hypothetical bias ", whereby people tend to overstate their valuation of goods and services. [5]


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