Episodes

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20200504

How is it possible to put a price on a human life? Are all lives equally precious or are some worth more than others? Anita Anand meets the people whose job it is to make these calculations, as well as people who have been valued in this way. Are the decisions made fair and morally justifiable?

Following 9/11, lawyer Ken Feinberg administered the government-funded victim compensation fund. It involved the seemingly impossible task of deciding exactly how much each life lost was worth in dollars, and then explaining that decision to the bereaved relatives. Ken explains this bizarre process to Anita, who then finds out what it feels like to be valued in this way from Danielle Barrani, who volunteered to help at Ground Zero and now suffers from life-threatening conditions due to the toxic air she inhaled.

How much would you pay for another year of life? Technology Appraisal Committees run by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) make that decision for you. They evaluate the cost effectiveness of treatments to determine whether the NHS should offer them. Health economist Dr Susan Griffin takes Anita inside these deliberations, and breast cancer patient Stephanie reveals what it is like to be on the receiving end of the process.

How is the price of human life calculated when the canvass is bigger - when we are talking millions, or even billions of lives? Climate and health researcher Gerardo Sanchez explains how a measure called the ‘value of a statistical life’ influences policymakers. Fijian climate activist Komal Kumar highlights the gap between statistics and real injustices. ‘Sceptical economist’ Jonathan Aldred argues that we need to move climate policy completely outside of cost-benefit thinking.

A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4

Anita Anand meets the people putting a price on life. How do they justify their decisions?

2020050420200506 (R4)

How is it possible to put a price on a human life? Are all lives equally precious or are some worth more than others? Anita Anand meets the people whose job it is to make these calculations, as well as people who have been valued in this way. Are the decisions made fair and morally justifiable?

Following 9/11, lawyer Ken Feinberg administered the government-funded victim compensation fund. It involved the seemingly impossible task of deciding exactly how much each life lost was worth in dollars, and then explaining that decision to the bereaved relatives. Ken explains this bizarre process to Anita, who then finds out what it feels like to be valued in this way from Danielle Barrani, who volunteered to help at Ground Zero and now suffers from life-threatening conditions due to the toxic air she inhaled.

How much would you pay for another year of life? Technology Appraisal Committees run by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) make that decision for you. They evaluate the cost effectiveness of treatments to determine whether the NHS should offer them. Health economist Dr Susan Griffin takes Anita inside these deliberations, and breast cancer patient Stephanie reveals what it is like to be on the receiving end of the process.

How is the price of human life calculated when the canvass is bigger - when we are talking millions, or even billions of lives? Climate and health researcher Gerardo Sanchez explains how a measure called the ‘value of a statistical life’ influences policymakers. Fijian climate activist Komal Kumar highlights the gap between statistics and real injustices. ‘Sceptical economist’ Jonathan Aldred argues that we need to move climate policy completely outside of cost-benefit thinking.

A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4

Anita Anand meets the people putting a price on life. How do they justify their decisions?

2020050420200506 (R4)

Anita Anand meets the people putting a price on life. How do they justify their decisions?