The Forgotten Numbers: A Closer Look at COVID-19 Non-Fatal Valuations

Loading...
Thumbnail Image
Authors
Knieser, Thomas J.
Sullivan, Ryan
Subjects
value of a statistical injury
VSI
value of a statistical life
VSL
COVID-19
pandemic
willingness to pay
benefit-cost analysis
CDC
Advisors
Date of Issue
2020-11-04
Date
2020-11-04
Publisher
Springer
Language
en_US
Abstract
Our research estimates COVID-19 non-fatal economic losses in the U.S. using detailed data on cumulative cases and hospitalizations from January 22, 2020 to July 27, 2020, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of July 27, 2020, the cumulative confirmed number of cases was about 4.2 million with almost 300,000 of them entailing hospitalizations. Due to data collection limitations the confirmed totals reported by the CDC undercount the actual number of cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. Using standard assumptions provided by the CDC, we estimate that as of July 27, 2020, the actual number of cumulative COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is about 47 million with almost 1 million involving hospitalizations. Applying value per statistical life (VSL) and relative severity/injury estimates from the Department of Transportation (DOT), we estimate an overall non-fatal unadjusted valuation of $2.2 trillion for the U.S. with a weighted average value of about $46,000 per case. This is almost 40% higher than the total valuation of $1.6 trillion (using about $11 million VSL from the DOT) for all approximately 147,000 COVID-19 fatalities. We also show a variety of estimates that adjust the non-fatal valuations by the dreaded and uncertainty aspect of COVID-19, age, income, and a factor related to fatality categorization. The adjustments show current overall non-fatal valuations ranging from about $1.5 trillion to about $9.6 trillion. Finally, we use CDC forecast data to estimate non-fatal valuations through November 2020, and find that the overall cumulative valuation increases from about $2.2 trillion to about $5.7 trillion or to about 30% of GDP. Because of the larger numbers of cases involved our calculations imply that non-fatal infections are as economically serious in the aggregate as ultimately fatal infections.
Type
Article
Description
17 USC 105 interim-entered record; under review.
Series/Report No
Department
Organization
Naval Postgraduate School
Identifiers
NPS Report Number
Sponsors
Funder
Identified in text as U.S. Government work.
Format
22 p.
Citation
Kniesner, Thomas J., and Ryan Sullivan. "The forgotten numbers: A closer look at COVID-19 non-fatal valuations." Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 61.2 (2020): 155-176.
Distribution Statement
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
Collections