Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics

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Dan Farber’s wide-ranging article, Inequality and Regulation, makes two core arguments. First, Farber argues that using a uniform value of statistical life (VSL) in cost-benefit analysis is justified not only as a pragmatic compromise but also as a matter of first principles. In particular, he argues that a uniform VSL can be based on a theory of equality that he calls harm egalitarianism, which holds that individuals have equal entitlements to protection against harm. Second, Farber, looking for ways to address environmental justice concerns through regulations, argues that “a heightened focus on differences in exposure and vulnerability [in the cost-benefit analysis of regulations] offers the most promising path forward for environmental justice to expand protection for the goals of environmental justice.” I will address these claims in reverse order.1

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