Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Delightfully Morbid Statistics

Here's a chart that shows what dollar value various government agencies assign to a human life when doing their cost-benefit analyses. Via Yglesias.

Some commenters reacted negatively to the very idea of cost-benefit analysis and human life. I guess my reaction to that is: "Grow up." Yes, it seems heartless and cold-blooded to place a dollar value on human life. But any safety decision we make (requiring seat belts, helmet laws, disease prevention, etc.) implicitly places a dollar value on human life. Indeed, many government policy decisions (health care, war, whether it is more important to fight unemployment or inflation) make an implicit statement about the value of human life. I think making those implicit statements explicit can help us make more just decisions.

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