Risky Transportation Choices and the Value of a Statistical Life

Authors: Gianmarco León-Ciliotta and Edward Miguel

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Vol. 9, No 1, 202-228, January, 2017

This paper exploits an unusual transportation setting to generate some of the first revealed preference value of a statistical life (VSL) estimates from a low-income setting. We estimate the trade-offs individuals are willing to make between mortality risk and cost as they travel to and from the international airport in Sierra Leone. The setting and original dataset allow us to address some typical omitted variable concerns, and also to compare VSL estimates for travelers from different countries, all facing the same choice situation. The average VSL estimate for African travelers in the sample is US$577,000 compared to US$924,000 for non-Africans.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona School of Economics Working Paper 716