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April 1 Thursday

Law, Economics & Organization Workshop: "Fair innings? The utilitarian and prioritarian value of risk reduction over a whole lifetime" with Duke Law Prof. Matthew D. Adler

  • Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 4:10PM - 5:40PM
  • To access the Workshop, please go to the LEO main page (https://law.yale.edu/LEO) on Thurs., Apr. 1st after 9:00 a.m. (ET).
  • Open To The Yale Community
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Description

Is it more important to save the lives of the young than the lives of the old?  If so, why?  Come hear the perspective of Duke Law Prof. Matthew D. Adler, who focuses on “prioritarianism”—a refinement to utilitarianism that gives extra weight (“priority”) to the worse off.


Matthew D. Adler, Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Philosophy and Public Policy at Duke University, and founding director of the Duke Center for Law, Economics and Public Policy, will present from his paper "Fair innings? The utilitarian and prioritarian value of risk reduction over a whole lifetime" (with Maddalena Ferranna, James K. Hammitt, and Nicolas Treich).  The abstract of the paper reads:

"The social value of risk reduction (SVRR) is the marginal social value of reducing an individual’s fatality risk, as measured by some social welfare function (SWF). This Article investigates SVRR, using a lifetime utility model in which individuals are differentiated by age, lifetime income profile, and lifetime risk profile. We consider both the utilitarian SWF and a 'prioritarian' SWF, which applies a strictly increasing and strictly concave transformation to individual utility. We show that the prioritarian SVRR provides a rigorous basis in economic theory for the 'fair innings' concept, proposed in the public health literature: as between an older individual and a similarly situated younger individual (one with the same income and risk profile), a risk reduction for the younger individual is accorded greater social weight even if the gains to expected lifetime utility are equal. The comparative statics of prioritarian and utilitarian SVRRs with respect to age, and to (past, present, and future) income and baseline survival probability, are significantly different from the conventional value per statistical life (VSL). Our empirical simulation based upon the U.S. population survival curve and income distribution shows that prioritarian SVRRs with a moderate degree of concavity in the transformation function conform to widely held views regarding lifesaving policies: the young should take priority but income should make no difference."

The complete paper is available here.

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Law, Economics & Organization Workshop