Research in Progress (RIP): "Valuing Non-fatal Health Risks: Monetary and Health-Utility Measures"



James Hammitt, Harvard University

Date and Time

April 20, 2016 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

FSI Contact

Nicole Feldman

Please note: All research in progress seminars are off-the-record. Any information about methodology and/or results are embargoed until publication.


Quantitative evaluation of environmental, health, and safety policies requires a metric for the value of changes in health risk. This metric should be consistent with both the preferences of the affected individuals and social preferences for distribution of health risks in the population. There are two classes of metrics widely used in practice: monetary measures (e.g., compensating and equivalent variations, willingness to pay and willingness to accept compensation) and health-utility measures (e.g., quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)), both of which are summed across the population. Health-utility measures impose more structure on individual preferences than monetary measures, with the result that individuals’ preferences often appear inconsistent with these measures; for the same reason, health-utility measures help protect against cognitive errors and other sources of incoherence in estimates of the values of monetary measures obtained from revealed- and stated-preference studies. This paper presents theoretical and empirical evidence comparing these metrics and examining how they co-vary.