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Journal of Law and Economics

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automobiles, safety, hedonic damages


Consumer Protection Law | Law


This article estimates hedonic price models for automobiles using a data set on almost 3,000 households from the U.S. Department of Energy Residential Transportation Energy Consumption Survey. The standard hedonic models are generalized to recognize the role of discounting of fuel efficiency and safety, yielding an estimated rate of time preference ranging from 11 to 17 percent. This range includes the prevailing rate of interest for car loans in 1988 and is consequently consistent with market rates. Purchasers exhibit an implicit value of life ranging from $2.6 to $3.7 million, which is within the range found in the labor market as well as other market contexts. The model also estimates a significant price effect for auto injury risks and fuel efficiency.



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