Institute for Policy Integrity

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Value of Mortality Risk

January 21, 2011

Policy Integrity recently submitted comments to the EPA on their “Valuing Mortality Risk Reductions For Environmental Policy” white paper, which focuses on topics related to the EPA’s practices regarding the valuation of mortality risks.

One of the key focuses of our comments was on supporting a shift in terminology from “value of statistical life” to “value of mortality risk” in order to clear up misconceptions attached to the VSL term. To ensure broader accessibility, a communications strategy that includes educating the public on the new term and its relationship to cost-benefit analysis should be implemented.

Policy Integrity also commented on incorporating factors such as altruism and cancer differential in valuing mortality risk reduction. Adopting a temporary 50% cancer differential while further research is conducted is appropriate, but the comments also recommend looking at other classes of long-latency diseases or health effects and their impact on mortality risk valuations. Another important point for further consideration is developing an adjustor that reflects the differences in valuations for children versus adults.

We plan to keep an eye on developments as the EPA’s take on valuing mortality risk continues to evolve.

Filed under Public Comments, Transparency