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Southern Economic Journal

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housing prices, cancer, risk factors


Environmental Law | Health Law and Policy | Law


In this paper, we use housing price changes occurring after the release of a regulatory agency's environmental risk information to estimate the value people place on cancer risk reduction. Using a large original data set on the repeat sales of houses, matched with detailed data on hazardous waste cancer risk and newspaper publicity, we find that housing prices respond in a rational manner to changes in information about risk. Since the new information indicated that the sites in our sample pose relatively low cancer risk, the informational release led residents to lower their risk beliefs, resulting in an average housing price increase of $56 to $87. This price change implies a statistical value per case of cancer of $4.3 million to $8.3 million, which is similar to the estimates obtained in labor market studies of the value of a statistical life. Newspaper publicity about the local sites increased housing prices, suggesting that residents perceived the news as good.



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