Value of a life via math!

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 04, 2011 5:36 PM GMT
    Bored today, so i'm doing a quick and simplified math project. Calculations are based off of approximations from data off the net but should provide a good ballpark estimate.

    Here is a measure of the dollar value of a life. I'm using smoking and government taxation and equivalencing this source of money to life years lost from smoking for an average smoker.

    First off, I averaged the state cigarette tax to around 1.00$ for the 50 states in the U.S. About half the states are under a dollar, half above.

    Average life expectancy is about 75 years.

    Average age of starting to smoke is about 17.

    Average smoker smokes 1/2 pack per day.

    Average life-years lost for a smoker is 13.

    -The number of smokers who's lost life years combined is equal to 75 years is 5.76.
    (75years average life expectancy/13 years life lost per smoker)

    -The amount of money spent on taxes for smoking during a smoker's lifetime is
    8'212$
    (1$per pack times 1/2 pack per day times 365 days per year time 45 total years smoking)

    -The amount of money gained from taxes equivalent to a loss of life of 75 years is 47'304$
    (8'212$ in taxes over the lifetime of a smoker multiplied by the number of smokers whose life lost is equivalent to 75 years which is 5.76)

    Thus the human life is estimated by the government to be worth approximately 47'304$. I'd estimate i'm off by 10'000$...

    As per arguments about the fundamental validity of this, I'd argue that the tax rate is a balance between needed funding and acceptable life loss. This is an understatement for a complex issue, as there is obviously a question of right to choice and taxation of other dangerous activities blah blah blah...

    consider it an amusement with some real implication towards the role of business and government in commodifying our existence.

    Also happy new years!
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    Jan 04, 2011 6:10 PM GMT
    icon_eek.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 04, 2011 11:35 PM GMT
    If there was a like this button, I would press it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 04, 2011 11:36 PM GMT
    You are nerdishly strange. But cute, so it´s ok icon_rolleyes.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 04, 2011 11:40 PM GMT
    Hey, it's all true.

    The idea that smokers are a bigger burden on the health system is a myth anyway.

    Especially in countries without a government health system.
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    Jan 04, 2011 11:55 PM GMT
    This is an extremely flawed calculation. You've neglected:

    (i) That people at or beyond retirement pay tax very different to their career average.

    (ii) The effect of inflation.

    (iii) The vast cost of treating lung cancer.

    etc.

    I think it's quite wicked to put a monetary value on a human life.
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    Jan 04, 2011 11:58 PM GMT
    I do some temp work for a market research company, some of the people smoked 80 cigarettes a day...

    That's one every 10 minutes or so of you're waking life

    or a $16,000+ a year habit here
  • Space_Cowboy_...

    Posts: 3738

    Jan 05, 2011 12:04 AM GMT
    I feel like you have too much time on your hands for some reason icon_razz.gif
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    Jan 05, 2011 12:16 AM GMT
    It may have been more appropriate if you had done this for candians?
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    Jan 05, 2011 1:54 AM GMT
    To tiger,

    this is an analysis of a snap shot and I neglect financial trends because they dont play into this simplified model. Further, other products such as high calorie foods have a similar health care cost but arent taxed similarly - my estimate is that the added cost is more of a guilt tax than anything to do with justice (and it's often promoted as a guilt tax - a preventive measure to preserve life).

    It is pretty bad to put a dollar value on a human life - however it was done by the government here. It's actually done very frequently - those in charge of policies must decide what measures to save or preserve life are worth the cost. Theoretically we should all be driving armored tanks and eat only fresh foods... realistically, our lives just arent given that value.

    When people say vaccines are cost effective, they mean that the cost of life is higher than the cost of the vaccine. When people say universal health care is too expensive, they mean the cost of the human life is less than the cost of health care. You could likely perform similar calculations using mortality rates with and without vaccines/health care and the cost of these products.

    Anywho, I did this to demonstrate something I see commonly in published medical literature. Nobody is stupid enough to come out and say the value of life is X.... however they DO commonly judge how much is too much or too little to preserve life which implies an X value.

    Anywho, thought for the day icon_razz.gif

    and yea, i'm really, super, ultra bored.
  • needleninja

    Posts: 713

    Jan 05, 2011 2:14 AM GMT
    2+2 =4

    my life is saved!!!!!! icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jan 05, 2011 2:22 AM GMT
    Assume pi = a/b with positive integers a und b.

    Now, for some natural number n define the functions f and F as follows. Strictly speaking, f and F should each have n as an index as they depend on n but this would render things unreadable; remember that n is always the same constant throughout this proof.

    Let

    f(x) = xn(a-bx)n/n!

    and let

    F(x) = f(x) + ... + (-1)jf(2j)(x) + ... + (-1)nf(2n)(x)

    where f(2j) denotes the 2j-th derivative of f.

    Then f and F have the following properties:

    1.

    f is a polynomial with coefficients that are integer, except for a factor of 1/n!
    2.

    f(x) = f(pi-x)
    3.

    0 <= f(x) <= pinan/n! for 0 <= x <= pi
    4.

    For 0 <= j < n, the j-th derivative of f is zero at 0 und pi.
    5.

    For n <= j, the j-th derivative of f is integer at 0 und pi (inferred from (1.)).
    6.

    F(0) and F(pi) are integer (inferred from (4.) and (5.)).
    7.

    F + F '' = f
    8.

    (F '·sin - F·cos)' = f·sin (inferred from (7.))

    Hence, the integral over f·sin, taken from 0 to pi, is integer.

    For sufficiently large n, however, inequality (3.) tells us that this integral must be between 0 an 1. Hence, we could have chosen n such that the assumption is led ad absurdum.
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    Jan 05, 2011 2:28 AM GMT
    Unfortunately, it's done all the time in the medical literature. They're called QALY (quality-adjusted life year) and ICER (incremental cost effectiveness ratio). The approximate cutoff for the US for QALY is about $50000 to $100000. I.e. if an intervention exceeds this amount per QALY gained, it's deemed not cost-efficient.
    http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/278/21/1759.abstract