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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Seamus Smyth

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with David Cutler, Jeffrey Liebman
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with David Cutler, Jeffrey Liebman, Mark Shepard
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June 2014Heterogeneity in the Value of Life
with Joseph E. Aldy: w20206
We develop a numerical life-cycle model with choice over consumption and leisure, stochastic mortality and labor income processes, and calibrated to U.S. data to characterize willingness to pay (WTP) for mortality risk reduction. Our theoretical framework can explain many empirical findings in this literature, including an inverted-U life-cycle WTP and an order of magnitude difference in prime-aged adults WTP. By endogenizing leisure and employing multiple income measures, we reconcile the literature's large variation in estimated income elasticities. By accounting for gender- and race-specific stochastic mortality and income processes, we explain the literature's black-white and female-male differences.

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