W. Kip Viscusi

Document Type


Publication Title


Publication Date

Summer 2023



Page Number



mortality risk, regulation, labor market


Health Law and Policy | Law


The rise of interest in evidence-based policymaking has created incentives for regulatory agencies to demonstrate the overall benefit-cost merits of their policies. An agency can use evidence to choose more cost-beneficial policies, or it can create the appearance of desirable policies by changing the ground rules by which it assesses a policy's merits.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently chose the latter course when monetizing the benefit of mortality risk reductions for children from a proposed safety standard for operating cords on custom window coverings. The cords are currently estimated to be responsible for nine fatal injuries annually. Each of those deaths is a tragedy, but together their loss as measured by typical value of a statistical life (VSL) estimates would not justify the cost of the proposed standard. Instead of accepting that calculus, the CPSC changed its policymaking rules to double-and considers tripling-the VSL to analyze the proposed rule.



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