Research Article

What is the monetary value of a human life?

Br Med J 1977; 2 doi: (Published 24 December 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;2:1627
  1. W I Card,
  2. G H Mooney


    The resources available to the health service are limited and so the amount the NHS can spend on saving human life is also limited. Rational allocation of resources requires a decision theory model, which in turn demands some monetary valuation of human life. Each of three approaches discussed--basing value on productive capacity, the NHS's implied values, or individuals' values--rests on an underlying set of non-monetary values. Choice of the underlying value will determine the method to be used in placing a monetary value on life. As the Health Service implicitly places certain values on life already, a means of making this valuation more rational and explicity can only improve the quality and quantity of health care.