Life is Worth Less

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the statistical value of a life is estimated at $6.9 million -- that's 11 percent less than a few years ago. Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, and Peter Coy, economics editor at BusinessWeek, talk about the new estimate and how it affects the environment.


Peter Coy and Frank O'Donnell
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [7]

Barb from brooklyn ny

Bringing down the population through having only enough children to replace ourselves, or fewer, will bring up the value of life that the government places on us and increase the quality of life for all. There are not enough jobs and resources to go around.

Jul. 23 2008 11:31 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Your guest’s argument that choices are made on a daily basis that value one’s life are absurd, to be polite, and pure bunk to be more accurate. Saturated versus unsaturated fats? Wealth brings choice and his arguments assume all things are equal. Someone without money can’t always make the best choices.
This devaluating of an American life is part of a cost/risk assessment. If a company can save 1 billion dollars by polluting and it will cost them less in litigation because of this devaluation it is tantamount to promoting more pollution.

Jul. 23 2008 10:55 AM
Rebecca from Manhattan

More people are choosing organics these days, which are significantly more expensive than the less healthy alternatives. Are these included in the estimation?

Jul. 23 2008 10:54 AM
louise Flax from Norwalk CT

absolutely--value of human life--After our 19 year old totaled our car and we had to purchase a new one--the new one had the fancy option of side air-bags--and you couldn't just get the side airbags--you had to get a bunch of other stuff--if was "bundled"--And it was maybe 5,000 or 6,000 more--and we didn't have the extra money--the kids were about to be in college--the car she had totaled was not a year old--and we are people who keep our cars for 10 or 12 years--
It was a very painful decision.
No matter what we did--we felt bad--be safe or spend too much money.. It was horrible.

Jul. 23 2008 10:54 AM
Robert from NYC

Get a life guys.

Jul. 23 2008 10:52 AM
Tony from San Jose, CA

How do you treat incoherence in people's behavior. For example, I may spend lots of money on an airbag and very little on my gym membership for cardio. With each case, you put a different price on life.

Jul. 23 2008 10:50 AM
Phoebe from NJ

Presuming the EPA valuation only applies to Amercians, it would be interesting to compare the value of life in other countries. Say, Iraq?

Jul. 23 2008 10:35 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.