Value of a statistical life (VSL)

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Boxes with dashed borders contain brief guidance text for completing the entries for new variables.


This includes a verbal definition of the spatial, temporal, and other limits
(system boundaries) of the variable. The scope is defined according to the use
purpose of the assessment(s) that the variable belongs to.

Monetary value of a statistical life derived from studies on societal willingness to pay (WTP) for mortality risk reductions. VSL should be thought of as a convenient way to summarize the value of small reductions in mortality risks. It is not meant to be applied to the value of saving the life of an identified person (i.e., the value of changing the risk of mortality from one to zero).

Dimensions and boundaries possibly relevant for the variable

  • Age of the impacted population
  • Life-expectancy and state of health of the population impacted
  • Assessment context
    • Voluntariness of the risk
    • Controllability of the risk
    • Size of the impact
    • Immediacy of the impact



Description of the data used for obtaining the value of the variable
(e.g. measurement data; mathematical method and its parameters).
Please include references (preferably using the <ref></ref> tags)
and links to original data, as appropriate.

VSL values used in previous analyses of air quality impacts[1]

  • Pearce (1992)[2], price level year 1991
    • lower bound €2 million
    • upper bound €4.3 million
  • ExternE (1999)[3]price level year 1995
    • €3.1 million
  • EC DG ENV (2000) [4], price level year 2000
    • lower bound €0.65 million
    • best estimate €1.0 million
    • upper bound €2.5 million

VSL values used in CAFE CBA (2005)[1]

  • Median VSL €980 000
  • Mean VSL €2 000 000
  • Price year 2000

The values are based on the EC NewExt study, the objective of which was to derive monetary unit value for the incidence of premature death resulting from air pollution in Europe. Values were based on three surveys undertaken simultaneously in UK, France and Italy, using a common survey instrument designed to elicit willingness to pay for mortality risk reductions. The survey protocol included people over the age of 40, with 1/3 of these above the age of 60.

ExternE 2005 [5]

Results are based on a contingent valuation study on changes in life-expectancy conducted in France, UK, and Italy.

  • Median: €1.052 million (rounded to €1 million, recommended central estimate)
  • Mean: €2.258 million
  • a Weibull distribution is assumed because it had the best fit to the data


List of upstream variables.
The variables can be listed used descriptive (free-format) names or unambiguous identifiers
(e.g. Analytica IDs).


Unit in which the result is expressed.

euro/life of one statistical person


Algebra or other explicit methods if possible
(e.g. Analytica code between the ''<anacode></anacode>'' delimiters).


If possible, a numerical expression or distribution.

1 000 000

See also

Links to relevant information that does not belong to Definition.

Pervin et al 2008. Societal costs of air pollution-related health hazards: A review of methods and results [1]


Will appear here automatically, if cited above using the <ref></ref> tags.
Additional references can also be listed here.
  1. Service Contract for Carrying out Cost-Benefit Analysis of Air Quality Related Issues, in particular in the Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Programme. Volume 2: Health Impact Assessment. AEA Technology Environment, 2005.
  2. Pearce D, Bann C and Georgiou S. (1992). The Social Costs of Fuel Cycles. A report to the UK Department of Energy. The Centre for Economic and Social Research into the Global Environment (CSERGE), University College London and University of East Anglia.
  3. ExternE (1999). DGXII (JOULE Programme) Externalities of Energy, ExternE Project, Report number 7, Methodology: Update 1998. Holland MR & Forster D (Eds).
  4. EC DG ENV (2000). Papers on the evaluation of mortality, from a workshop convened by the commission in November 2000.
  5. European Commission 2005. ExternE, Externalities of Energy, Methodology 2005 Update. Bickel P & Friedrich R (Eds.)