Book Review: Pricing Lives


Scott Gilbert. 2019. Book Review: Pricing Lives. Journal of Legal Economics 25(1–2): pp. 91–99.

SKU: v25i1-2gilbert Categories: ,

This book, written for a general audience, is on public safety improvements made possible by cost-benefit analysis – with the cost of lives lost based on the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) methodology. With an engaging narrative of his own journey as pioneering economist in the area of government regulation and public policy, together with a range of case studies that span more than three decades, the author gives a remarkable account of government and business decision-making and its effects on people’s lives. The book is accessible and also scholarly – with extensive references to the academic literature. Economists wanting a very technical discussion of VSL and its application can refer to the author Kip Viscusi’s recent survey of the literature (Viscusi 2014). The new book offers a filtered version of that survey as well as discussion of studies published since the survey. The book also offers a bold critique of business decision- making, as well as a proposal to improve public safety via corporate use of VSL methods.


Scott Gilbert

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