Viscusi is the author of “Pricing Lives: Guideposts for a Safer Society,” Princeon University Press, 2018.
At some point in the coming weeks, countries will have to decide if the economic toll of pandemic closures and isolation has become more of a problem than the disease itself. To put it bluntly, the decision will be: Here’s how many lives we can save if we keep everything closed. Are those lives worth it? Awful as that calculation sounds, insurance companies and policy makers do something like it all the time.