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Rational Risk PolicyThe 1996 Arne Ryde Memorial Lectures$
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W. Kip Viscusi

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198293637

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198293631.001.0001

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Liability and Social Insurance

Liability and Social Insurance

(p.106) 7 Liability and Social Insurance
Rational Risk Policy

W. Kip Viscusi (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The estimates of the value of life provide a basis for assessing the appropriate level of safety but not for providing compensation to victims. The proper use of value‐of‐life estimates is illustrated using the Ford Pinto as a case study. Tort liability for risks imposes substantial costs, particularly for mass toxic torts. Calculations of the social costs of cigarette smoking indicate that smokers on balance pay their own way but do generate substantial health cost externalities. Workers’ compensation plays an effective role as social insurance both in providing compensation to victims as well as creating substantial incentives for safety.

Keywords:   compensation, Ford Pinto, incentives, liability, safety, smoking, social costs, social insurance, value of life

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