November 2012

IZA DP No. 6994: New Estimates of the Value of a Statistical Life Using Air Bag Regulations as a Quasi-Experiment

published in: American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2015, 7(1), 331-354

Due to Federal regulations, automobile air bag availability was a model-specific discontinuous function of model year for used vehicles in the 1990s and early 2000s. We use these discontinuities and the gradual increase in the supply of air bags to trace out the demand curve for air bags and the implied distribution of the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) across consumers. While imprecise, our preferred point estimates indicate that the median VSL is between $7 million and $13 million, but that a sizable portion of consumers placed negative values on air bags, probably due to distrust of the technology.