Putting a price tag on a dog’s life through economic modeling · The Badger Herald

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Economists have long put the price of a human life at around $ 10 million. And now they’ve also rated a price tag for a dog’s life – according to a. $ 10,000 current scientific work at Cambridge University Press.

The paper, written by the University of Wisconsin, Professor David Weimer, used an estimation technique that is already used in humans. Human life may be priceless, but there is a limit to what people are willing to pay to reduce their own risk of death.

“You can watch people in the market exchange money for a lower death rate or accept money for a higher death rate,” Weimer said. “So it is based on people’s willingness to pay to avoid mortality.”

The value of statistical lifespan, as this limit is called, is generally calculated by the additional salary people expect when they take up jobs with a higher risk of death. This is the limit that economists must consider when it comes to whether it is worth the cost of keeping something safe, be it buildings, planes, cars, medicines, or even food.

It turns out that a typical adult in the United States values ​​their own life at an average of about $ 10 million, an amount that has been confirmed by hundreds of studies, Weimer said. If an upgrade, initiative, or intervention costs more per life saved, it’s probably not worth it.

Since dogs obviously cannot make financial decisions, calculating the value of dog’s life becomes more complicated. Until recently, no one had bothered to perform it.

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The lack of estimates is a headache for the Food and Drug Administration. In 2007 pets were taken several times died after consuming poor animal feed adulterated with ingredients imported from China. But when the FDA decided to enact pet food safety regulations, they ran into a problem – without an estimate of the value of dog and cat life, they couldn’t appreciate the benefits of safer pet food, Weimer said.

In the end, the FDA took advantage of the indirect costs of transmitting salmonella from pets to humans, Weimer said, a creative solution, if not an ideal one.

“It was just expediency, the best they could do,” said Weimer. “They didn’t know how to value dog lives, so they appreciated the indirect health benefits of safer dog foods for humans. When you have better control of your dog’s food, the likelihood of salmonella being transmitted is less, and therefore fewer people get sick. “

But after having breakfast with a chief economist at the FDA and listening to him complain that no one had calculated a value for the lives of pets, Weimer decided to take up the challenge. Weimer spent the money from his professor’s fund, which is paid out to professors after their tenure, and started a type of survey known as contingent rating, a type of survey that uses hypothetical scenarios to assign economic value.

Respondents, all dog owners, were asked how they would react to a hypothetical scenario in which canine flu is spreading among native dogs in their area. Dog owners were told that their dog had a 12 percent chance of developing the disease and dying. The survey then asked participants to bid on a vaccine that reduced the risk of death to two percent.

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After Weimer did a little math and checked income, Weimer calculated that $ 6,760 as a conservative estimate of what the typical dog owner thinks of their dog’s life. The $ 6,760 figure is rising rapidly based on how plausibly respondents treat the hypothetical and whether the owner views the dog as a family member.

“When we looked at everything, we thought that $ 10,000 would be a nice round number to start with [for future studies]“Said Weimer. “This is the first for dogs, so we want more of these studies to gain confidence – and I suspect other people will replicate them and we’ll see what the numbers are.”

Recently, Weimer has received a few calls from animal advocates interested in his paper because it provides a basis for compensation in the event of an unlawful death of a pet. Currently, in many states, an owner may only be eligible for the cost of replacing their dog, and that value for a shelter dog is essentially zero.

While having value on dog life is useful, humans can view their pets as family members. It is probably impossible to attribute a dollar amount to the emotional support dogs provide to humans. Thousands of years of domestication have made dogs perfect companions for humans. In modern times they are regularly used in therapy.

Linda Sullivan, Faculty Emeritus of UW Veterinary School, currently leads the Pet Pals Therapy Program, which has been organizing therapy dog ​​visits with pediatric patients at the American Family Children’s Hospital since 1996.

“I think there’s only a natural connection,” Sullivan said. “[The dogs] don’t ask questions, they’re not judgmental. You are just there. You don’t look at these children who have seams on their faces or who have lost their hair from chemotherapy. The dogs don’t care. And the children know that. “

The children light up during visits, Sullivan said. Parents often tell her that the visits are the first time their child has smiled in weeks.

It is not just Sullivan’s perception that the visits are helpful. Researcher study the program In 2002, they found that pediatric patients who played with pets had improved their mood and thought less about their illness.

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According to CDC, The benefits of keeping pets include lower blood pressure, lower triglyceride levels, lower cholesterol, and fewer symptoms of loneliness and depression.

The Pet Pals program uses strict criteria when evaluating potential dogs. Dogs need to be able to sit still for long periods of time and not be easily excitable, Sullivan said.

“We’re looking for dogs who really enjoy sitting with kids, being petted and talking to kids,” said Sullivan. “They are sick children. You know, they have IV fluids, they have a chest tube, they don’t feel well, they have been poked and poked, they have been operated on. And they don’t want to play, they just want to hug, hang out and pet the dog.