Some Ask a Taboo Question: Is America Overreacting to Coronavirus?
As an America desperate to stem the coronavirus outbreak put in place sweeping restrictions last week on every facet of public life, the University of Wyoming economist Linda Thunstrom asked what felt like a taboo question: “Are we overreacting?’’
It helped that Dr. Thunstrom was in her kitchen, drinking coffee with her husband, Jason Shogren, a fellow economist who studies how much Americans are willing to pay to reduce risk of threats like terrorism, food-borne illness and climate change.
Calculating the economic costs of curtailing social interaction compared with the lives saved, he agreed, might yield a useful metric for policymakers. The U.S. government routinely performs such analyses when assessing new regulations, with the “statistical value of life” currently pegged by one government agency at about $9 million.
[Source: New York Times]