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Mortality Risk Valuation in Environment, Health and Transport Policies

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The book presents a major meta-analysis of 'value of a statistical life' (VSL) estimates derived from surveys where people around the world have been asked about their willingness to pay for small reduction in mortality risks. The analysis seeks to explain the differences in the estimates, for example across countries. Differences in incomes and the magintude of the risk reduction people have been asked to value were found to be the factors having the strongest impact on VSL, but a number of other policy-relevant factors are also important. Based on the meta-analysis, and a broad review of the literature, the book also presents clear advice on how VSL values best can be used in assessments of environmental, health and transport policies, such as in cost-benefit analyses. Using explicit VSL estimates to quantify the benefits to society of fatality risk reductions can play an important role in the development of more cost-effective public policies.

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The valuation of mortality risk

Environmental, health and transport polices often reduce mortality risks substantially. It is necessary to value such risk changes in monetary terms in order to compare them to costs in cost-benefit analysis. This report uses meta-analysis methods to take stock of stated preference studies that estimate the value of a statistical life (VSL) for adults, with the aim to explain people’s preferences for mortality risk reductions and to recommend specific VSL estimates that may be used in policy analyses. Current regulatory practices vary considerably even between agencies within the same country. Hence, there is considerable scope for more consistent and efficient treatment of the benefits of mortality risk reductions.

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