Discounting and the Evaluation of Life-Saving Programs

Maureen Cropper and Paul Portney , Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 3(4) , 369-379 , December 1990.

The evaluation of lifesaving programs whose benefits extend into the future involves two discounting issues. The intragenerational discounting problem is how to express, in age-; dollars, reductions in an individual's conditional probability of dying at some future age k. Having discounted future lifesaving benefits to the beginning of each individual's life, one is faced with the problem of discounting these benefits to the present—the intergenerational discounting problem. We discuss both problems from the perspectives of cost-benefit and costeffectiveness analyses. These principles are then applied to lifesaving programs that involve a latency period.

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