Value of human life

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Value of life (also known as value of statistical life).

In the U.S., one human life is worth roughly $10 million.[1] Thomas Schelling, a Harvard professor and RAND economist, articulated the concept of the "value of a statistical life" in 1968. W. Kip Viscusi, economist at Vanderbilt University, suggested in 1981 using the VSL to make decisions.[2]

Others who did research / contributed to this thinking:

  • Warren Prunella, economics professor at Canisius College, came up with one of the earliest calculations used in regulation in 1978.[3]
  • Kenneth Feinberg[4]
  • Stefanos Zenios at Stanford Graduate School of Business[5]

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux. "What Should The Government Spend To Save A Life?" FiveThirtyEight, March 27, 2020.

Frank Partnoy. "The Cost of a Human Life, Statistically Speaking." The Globalist, July 21, 2012.


  1. Sarah Gonzalez. "How Government Agencies Determine The Dollar Value Of Human Life." NPR, April 23, 2020.
  2. Adam Rogers. "How much is a human life actually worth?" WIRED, May 11, 2020.
  3. Austin Frakt. "Putting a Dollar Value on Life? Governments Already Do." The New York Times, May 11, 2020.
  4. Stephen J. Dubner. "Who Decides How Much a Life Is Worth?" Freakonomics, Ep.344, August 8, 2018.
  5. Kathleen Kingsbury. "The Value of a Human Life: $129,000." Time, May 20, 2008.