Suppose each person in a sample of 100,000 people were asked how much he or she would be willing to pay for a reduction in their individual risk of dying of 1 in 100,000, or 0.001%, over the next year. Since this reduction in risk would mean that we would expect one fewer death among the sample of 100,000 people over the next year on average, this is sometimes described as “one statistical life saved.” Now suppose that the average response to this hypothetical question was $100. Then the total dollar amount that the group would be willing to pay to save one statistical life in a year would be $100 per person × 100,000 people, or $10 million. This is what is meant by the “value of a statistical life.” Importantly, this is not an estimate of how much money any single individual or group would be willing to pay to prevent the certain death of any particular person.

from the EPA’s “Mortality Risk Valuation“

One thousandth

of one percent

of one year

of one life

can apparently be measured

in dollars.

Budget this much for work,

fun, depression, family, and rainy days.

And it all adds up

to me.

I have been accounted.

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