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Abstract

A large literature has developed in which labor market contracts are used to estimate the value of a statistical life (VSL). Reported estimates of the VSL vary substantially, from less than $100,000 to more than $25 million. This research uses meta-analysis to quantitatively assess the VSL literature. Results from existing studies are pooled to identify the systematic relationships between VSL estimates and each study's particular features, such as the sample composition and research methods. This meta-analysis suggests that a VSL range of approximately $1.5 million to $2.5 million (in 1998 dollars) is what can be reasonably inferred from past labor-market studies when “best practice” assumptions are invoked. This range is considerably below many previous qualitative reviews of this literature. © 2002 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.