Environmental Economics

Value of Statistical Life Analysis and Environmental Policy: A White Paper for Presentation to Science Advisory Board - Environmental Economics Advisory Committee

EPA is in the process of revising and updating its Guidelines and as such we are revisiting our approach to valuing mortality risk reductions. The literature has grown considerably since EPA's default estimate was derived and several EPA-funded reports have raised issues related to the robustness of estimates emerging from the mortality risk valuation literature. Furthermore, several meta-analyses have been conducted of this literature, providing new means of deriving central, default values for consideration. EPA's goal in bringing this issue to the SAB-EEAC is to seek expert opinion and guidance regarding the most appropriate way in which to proceed in updating the VSL estimate used to assess the mortality risk reductions from environmental policy.
It is important to note that this discussion focuses exclusively on mortality risk valuation. While the authors recognize the importance of morbidity and co-morbidity risks, the focus of this particular White Paper is on mortality; morbidity will be addressed at a future time.
To help inform the discussion, this paper provides background on current EPA practices for valuing mortality risk reductions, briefly summarizes the findings of three cooperative agreement reports on various segments of the literature, and reviews three recent meta-analyses that derive aggregate VSL estimates. The paper concludes with charge questions for consideration and discussion by the EEAC members.