NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Transportation Choices and the Value of Statistical Life

Gianmarco León, Edward Miguel

NBER Working Paper No. 19494
Issued in October 2013
NBER Program(s):   DEV   EEE   HE

This paper exploits an unusual transportation setting to estimate the value of a statistical life (VSL). We estimate the trade-offs individuals are willing to make between mortality risk and cost as they travel to and from the international airport in Sierra Leone (which is separated from the capital Freetown by a body of water), and choose from among multiple transport options - namely, ferry, helicopter, hovercraft, and water taxi. The setting and original dataset allow us to address some typical omitted variable concerns, and to compare VSL estimates for travelers from different countries, all facing the same choice situation. The average VSL estimate for African travelers in the sample is US$577,000 compared to US$924,000 for non-African travelers. Individual job earnings can largely account for this difference: Africans in the sample typically earn less than non-Africans. The data implies an income elasticity of the VSL of 1.77. These revealed preference VSL estimates from a developing country fill an important gap in the existing literature, and can be used for public policy purposes, including in current debates within Sierra Leone regarding the desirability of constructing new transportation infrastructure.

download in pdf format
   (950 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19494

Published: Gianmarco León & Edward Miguel, 2017. "Risky Transportation Choices and the Value of a Statistical Life," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, vol 9(1), pages 202-228.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Ashenfelter and Greenstone w9094 Using Mandated Speed Limits to Measure the Value of a Statistical Life
Ashenfelter w11916 Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects
Viscusi and Aldy w9487 The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World
Muralidharan and Sundararaman w19441 The Aggregate Effect of School Choice: Evidence from a Two-stage Experiment in India
Redding and Turner w20235 Transportation Costs and the Spatial Organization of Economic Activity
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us