Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2003:13: The Value of Road and Railway Safety - an Overview

Lena Winslott Hiselius ()
Additional contact information
Lena Winslott Hiselius: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: The level of safety investments can be argued to vary between sectors. The safety investments legally required and carried out within the railway sector indicate that there is a higher implicit value in preventing a fatality within the rail sector than within the road sector. The literature overview discusses factors possibly influencing individuals’ perception of risk and their willingness to trade risk for money. The study seeks to combine results, from e.g. the field of psychological studies, with work performed by economists in order to analyse whether the value of preventing a statistical life used in the road traffic sector can be argued to differ from the value used in the railway sector. The research discussed here indicates that the use of different values may be theoretically motivated. However, empirical findings presented do not confirm that the value of a statistical life used in the railway sector is many times larger than that used in the road sector. Research indicates, furthermore, that the variation of perceived risk within the context of one traffic mode may be as large as, or even larger than, the variation between different traffic contexts. The result implies that studies estimating the value of a statistical life should focus not only on disparities between transport modes per se but also on disparities between accident types.

Keywords: value of safety; risk perception; willingness to pay

JEL-codes: D61; D81; I10

44 pages, October 3, 2003

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