NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Heterogeneity in the Value of Life

Joseph E. Aldy, Seamus J. Smyth

NBER Working Paper No. 20206
Issued in June 2014
NBER Program(s):   EEE

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20206

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