Valuing Environmental Health Effects – An Economic Perspective

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Courtesy of Springer

This paper provides an overview of some of the issues involved in comparing benefit-cost analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis based on quality-adjusted life-years as alternative approaches to assessing environmental policies that affect human health. It concludes that: (i) although QALYs have the advantage of reflecting policy impacts on both health status and longevity in a single scalar measure, they are not consistent with utility theory unless individuals’ preferences satisfy some restrictive conditions; (ii) they do not capture other important aspects of the valuation of changes in mortality and morbidity; (iii) cost-effectiveness analysis based on QALYs as a measure of effectiveness omits non-health related effects of environmental policy; and (iv) it leaves unanswered the important question of what level of environmental regulation is appropriate.

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