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An Empirical Bayes Approach to Combining and Comparing Estimates of the Value of a Statistical Life for Environmental Policy Analysis

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An empirical Bayes pooling method is used to combine and compare estimates of the value of a statistical life (VSL). The data come from 40 selected studies published between 1974 and 2002, containing 197 VSL estimates. The estimated composite distribution of empirical Bayes adjusted VSL has a mean of $5.4 million and a standard deviation of $2.4 million. The empirical Bayes method greatly reduces the variability around the pooled VSL estimate. The pooled VSL estimate is influenced by the choice of valuation method, study location, and union status of sample but not to the source of data on occupational risk or the consideration of non-fatal risk injury.

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