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2013-01-21 | Peer Reviewed

Are some lives more valuable? An ethical preferences approach

Martinsson, Peter and Olof Johansson-Stenman. 2008. “Are some lives more valuable? An ethical preferences approach.” Journal of Health Economics 27: 739-752.
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A theoretical model of the ethical preferences of individuals is tested by conducting a choice experiment on safety-enhancing road investments.

The relative value of a saved life is found to decrease with age, such that the present value of a saved year of life is almost independent of age at a pure rate of time preference of a few percent, and a saved car driver is valued 17-31% lower than a pedestrian of the same age. Moreover, individuals’ ethical preferences seem to be fairly homogenous.