Feds Raise Cost of Life (and Maybe Living) Way Up

Thursday, 17 Feb 2011 03:53 PM

By Charles J. Little

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Federal agencies have raised their calculations of what a human life is worth in actual dollars, forcing businesses to spend more on worker and consumer safety, The New York Times reports. The estimates vary widely from agency to agency, but the official minimum amount required to prevent a single death looks set to keep on climbing in almost every case.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency gave life a big raise to $9.1 million, from $6.8 million during the George W. Bush administration, to justify new air-pollution controls.

The Food and Drug Administration says a life now is worth $7.9 million, compared with $5 million in 2008, and the higher valuation will be used to pay for new cancer warnings on cigarette packages.

“But some industry representatives said assigning a value to life was inherently subjective, and that the recent changes were driven by the administration’s pursuit of its regulatory agenda rather than scientific considerations,” the Times reports.


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