The Monetary Value of a Human Life

The value of life is a statistical measure used to assess the cost of avoiding a single fatality. It is also referred to in various contexts as:

  • cost of life
  • value of preventing a fatality (VPF)
  • implied cost of averting a fatality (ICAF)
  • value of a statistical life (VSL)

This figure is used for a variety of purposes including policy choices in health care, civil engineering, worker safety regulation, product safety, and environmental impact assessments. For example, in assessing the cost of safety improvements to transportation infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Transportation set the value of life in 2016 at US$ 9.6 million, which is around 124 times the average annual wage (OECD, 2022) for the U.S.