Age, Autos, and the Value of a Statistical Life
O'Brien, James H.
Levinson, Arik M
In this dissertation I examine topics in environmental and development economics. In the first chapter I estimate the value of a statistical life (VSL) for individuals from the age of 18 up to the age of 85 by combining information on vehicle use, household attributes, vehicle prices, crash test results, and yearly fatal accidents for each make, model, and vintage automobile. I calculate a separate willingness to pay for reduced mortality for different age groups and find a significant inverted-U shape to the age-VSL function that ranges from $1.5 to $19.2 million (in 2009 dollars). This extends the range of revealed preference estimates of the age-VSL relationship and highlights the importance of considering the specific ages of affected individuals when evaluating public policy.In the second chapter I present a set of Environmental Engel curves (EECs), which plot the relationship between households' incomes and the amount of pollution embodied in the goods and services they consume. The estimates reveal three clear results. First, EECs are upward sloping; richer households are responsible for more pollution. Second, EECs have income elasticities of less than one; pollution increases with income, but at a decreasing rate. Third, EECs have been shifting over time; at every level of income households are responsible for decreasing amounts of pollution. Using these EECs, I find that 60 percent of the compositional change in household consumption can be attributed to income growth - movement along the EEC - and 40 percent can be attributed to economy-wide effects such as changing prices due to environmental regulations - shifts in the EEC.In the third chapter, I examine public works employment programs in India, which offer a guarantee of temporary employment to any household upon request. I estimate the effects of public works participation on the schooling intensity of children in workers' households. To measure this, I rely on a new econometric technique that exploits heteroscedasticity rather than an exclusion restriction. I find that higher public works participation is significantly correlated with lower schooling intensity, and that this effect persists even after controlling for the endogeneity of public works and schooling.
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