The amount the public will pay to prevent the death of a child may be twice that of an adult, according to a new UGA study that asked 199 individuals how much they would pay to prevent a death from child abuse or neglect.
The research, published in the March edition of the American Journal of Public Health, found that respondents were willing to pay an average of $150 to reduce the mortality risk associated with child maltreatment by one in 10,000.
“This study is trying, for the first time, to put a dollar value on what it means to prevent a case of child maltreatment, and in this case, to prevent a death associated with child maltreatment,” said Phaedra Corso, head of the department of health policy and management in UGA’s College of Public Health.
If applied to a hypothetical group of 100,000 people, the study found that society may value preventing a death from child maltreatment at $15 million. These numbers suggest that if an intervention is effective enough to save even one life, the benefits will outweigh the costs, said Corso.
The number that the government now uses for value of statistical life is $7.4 million. The figure is used to assess regulatory policies, said Corso.
“Is it the case that people value preventing the death of a child more than they do an average adult? I would say yes,” said Corso. “It could very well be the case that as a society we care more about kids because they have more to lose and they have not experienced life.”
Corso uses the term child maltreatment to cover abuse, which can be sexual, physical or emotional abuse, and neglect, which can be emotional or physical.