economic value of human life. The writer takes the reader on an exploratory journey through several methods used to calculate that value as well as other theories about calculating that value. There were four sources used to complete this paper.
Worldwide it has been said that people are becoming more materialistic than ever before. It seems that everything now has a tangible value that can be computed in dollars and cents. Insurance companies want a dollar value placed on the most sentimental items one owns, while things once belonging to celebrities command a high fee at auctions and promotions. In addition to individual items being assessed individual values, abstract ideas are also assigned values through dollars. Consultants, writers, and others are paid for their ideas and their intellectual property in the same way that someone purchases a new couch for the living room. Throughout history people have placed value on tangible and intangible items but the one thing remaining just out of accountable reach is the economic value marker of human life. For many years experts and lay people have debated the worth of human life with little success. While the efforts will continue in the future, it will be difficult to answer the question. Human life has so many subjective variables that placing a dollar worth on human life always remains just out of reach. Before one can place a tangible value on human life one must be able to identify the variables to be measured for comparison and value placement. The inability to agree with what elements should be included places a burden on the effort to choose an economic value on human life.
WHY OTHERS HAVE TRIED
Along the way various businesses have attempted to place a dollar value on human life for many different reasons. Insurance companies, government organizations, the medical community and others have a vested interest on being able to place an economic value on human life.
At various points in history agencies, groups and individuals have attempted to place an economic value on human life with little success. The land Transport Safety Authority conceded recently that it could not come up with a calculation to determine human worth. It initially placed the value of human life at $2.5 million and more recently decided it was worth as much as $4 million (Craig, 2001). "In mulling the likely costs and benefits of road safety policies and projects, the LTSA and other transport authorities feed many factors into complex cost-benefit equations (Craig, 2001). They include the loss of life and quality of life, loss of output due to injuries, medical costs (emergency services, hospitals and ongoing care), legal costs (crash investigations, court proceedings and imprisonment) and property damage.In calculating the cost of lives lost in road smashes, authorities use what they call the "value of statistical life" -- not exactly the worth of a human life but a notional figure used to work out the value of reducing the risk of death on the roads and allocating resources for improving safety (Craig, 2001). The figure can significantly affect the viability of road safety, transport and roading projects: the higher the statistical value put on a life, the bigger the benefits of policies aimed at reducing the road toll. Raising the statistical life value by more than half to the proposed $4 million stands to make many previously unviable road safety and roading projects economically viable (Craig, 2001)."
The above examples are reasons that providing an economic value on human life is difficult. While several attempts have been tried to place an absolute economic value on human life it has been a difficult venture to say the least. In 1990 one organization placed it at $2 million (Craig, 2001).
In 1990, the value of statistical life was set at $2 million, based on a household survey that asked people how much they were willing to pay to reduce their chances of dying in a crash. Taking account of inflation, the figure has since increased to $2.55 million (Craig, 2001). A more comprehensive household survey between 1997 and 1999 found the value of statistical life should be increased to $4 million to reflect new levels of risk (Craig, 2001). "
One study regarding the economic value of human life asked more than 1,000 households what they believed a fair price…