28 January 2019

From a fascinating Richard Denniss essay on how Government conducts cost-benefit analysis: “According to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), an Australian life is currently worth $4.5 million and each year of premature death is worth $195,000. This number is not top secret — on the contrary, it is contained in a short and eminently readable memo entitled ‘Best Practice Regulation Guidance Note: Value of statistical life’. … Intriguingly, … the head of PM&C, Dr Martin Parkinson, earns $896,400 per year, which suggests that a year of your life is worth less than a quarter of a year of his working life. Just saying.” Denniss raises some challenging questions about how we value different lives in different contexts.