Value of Statistical Life

Amount people are willing to pay to reduce risk so that on average one less person is expected to die from the risk.

Sample Usage: The analyst estimates the monetary value of the mortality risk reduction from the initiative by using the VSL estimate.


  1. The VSL is not intended to value very large reductions in mortality risk or place a value on the lives of identified individuals. VSL measures the monetized value of small reductions in mortality risk for a large number of people. For example, a countermeasure that reduces the annual risk of death by one in a million for 20 million people will, on average, save 20 lives a year. If the VSL is estimated at $5 million, the value of this mortality risk reduction is $100 million (20 expected lives saved times $5 million per life).
  2. Most VSL estimates are based on studies of the wage compensation for occupational hazards or studies that elicit people’s willingness to pay for mortality risk reduction directly.

Source: DHS Risk Lexicon, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010 Edition. September 2010 Regulatory Guidance

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