Traditional VSLs undervalue COVID-19 risks, but they can serve as a starting point for policymakers.
VSLs can serve as a foundational tool for policymakers at all levels of governance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uncertainties in value per statistical life estimates impact the extent to which COVID-19 policies yield net benefits.
The normative foundations of the value of statistical life render it an insufficient tool to analyze pandemic-related policies.
The lives saved by four more weeks of social distancing requirements outweigh the harms to the economy.
Over-reliance on the VSL measure often leads to excessive consideration and regulation of risk.
As a practical matter, the VSL is successful in balancing the benefits and costs of regulation.
Regulators must measure welfare using transparent methods before determining the policies themselves.
The VSL is necessarily based on market preferences that accurately reflect society’s valuation of risks and benefits.
The primary drawback of the VSL is that it fails to account for future generations’ valuation of benefits and costs.
Using the VSL to measure benefits promotes the interests of individuals who are affected by regulation.
Analysts debate how agencies should measure the benefits of reducing mortality.