Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The cost of a life in terms of GDP

[Journal of Political Economy, 2006, vol. 114, no. 5]
© 2006 by The University of Chicago.

The Value of Health and Longevity

Kevin M. Murphy and Robert H. Topel
University of Chicago and National Bureau of Economic Research


We develop a framework for valuing improvements in health and apply it to past and prospective reductions in mortality in the United States. We calculate social values of (i) increased longevity over the twentieth century, (ii) progress against various diseases after 1970, and (iii) potential future progress against major diseases. Cumulative gains in life expectancy after 1900 were worth over $1.2 million to the representative American in 2000, whereas post‐1970 gains added about $3.2 trillion per year to national wealth, equal to about half of GDP. Potential gains from future health improvements are also large; for example, a 1 percent reduction in cancer mortality would be worth $500 billion.


also see

The Value of Life: Estimates with Risks by Occupation and Industry

by W. Kip Viscusi*
John F. Cogan, Jr. Professor of Law and Economics, Harvard Law School


The worker fatality risk variable constructed for this paper uses BLS data on total worker deaths by both occupation and industry over the 1992-1997 period rather than death risks by occupation or industry alone, as in past studies. The subsequent estimates using 1997 CPS data indicate a value of life of $4.7 million for the full sample, $7.0 million for blue-collar males, and $8.5 million for blue-collar females. Unlike previous estimates, these values account for the influence of clustering of the job risk variable and compensating differentials for both workers’ compensation and nonfatal job risks.


1 comment:

  1. That's interesting
    Especially because the people who have disabilty checks, are living off social security and other government programs are worth more than some small companies make in a year.. not to mention even a homeless person could be worth that much
    I'm not trying to be blunt or inhumane but thats alot of money for certain unproductive individuals