One study completed for the American Enterprise Institute estimated the cost per life saved in several programs supported or mandated by the government. The following results were reported:
estimates of cost per life saved
recommended for cost-benefit analysis by the national
safety council for traffic safety $37,500
kidney dialysis at home $99,000
instructions to military pilots on when to crash-land airplanes $270,000
Consumer product safety commision´s proposed lawn
mower safety standards $240,000 to $1,920,000
OSHA-proposed acrylonitrile exposure standar $1,963,000 to $624,976,000
OSHA coke-oven emission standard $4,500,000 to $158,000,000
Other analyses indicated that a proposed plan to further reduce carbon monoxide auto emissions would cost $1 billion in increased costs of production and costs to the consumer and that the plan would prolong two lives in 20 years. This ratio could be compared with the $200 it would cost to prevent each of 24,000 premature deaths per year by installing cardiac care units in ambulances.
Some studies of the value of a human life computed an implicit value in the range of $200,000 to $700,000. These studies examined wage differentials for hazardous jobs and provided estimates of what people are willing to pay for a small decrease in risk.
a) Given these estimates of the value of a human life, which of the programs discussed do you think should be pursued?
b) How can you explain the actions of a mine operator who may spend $5 million to free a trapped miner?
If we use the estimated monetary value of human life of $200,000 to $700,000, then any programs that cost more than this should not be pursued. Programs that cost less should be undertaken, and money should first be used where it can save the most lives. For example, every $200 spent on cardiac ...
How the value of human life is measured subjectively and objectively, and how this guides decision-making.