Thursday, November 20, 2008

 

The Value of Human Life in Pennsylvania

It seems economist Rafael Robb has gotten 5 to 10 years in prison for killing his wife. He gave a talk here a couple of years ago, and did seem a tough guy-- is he the one who was an Israeli paratrooper? In any case, I expect he will be a model prisoner and be out after 5 years. As an economist, I can see then that the value put on a human life by the Pennsylvania state government is a 5-year prison term.

He admitted he "just lost it" during an argument that erupted at the couple's Upper Merion Township home in December 2006. Ellen Robb had been planning to end their 16-year marriage, and her husband feared he would see less of their daughter and possibly suffer financially if they divorced.

I wonder if Professor Robb has gained financially, overall? He has lost 5 years of salary completely, plus a hard-to-estimate reduction in future salary. He will lose his tenure at Penn, but he can get a job somewhere else-- he's a good economist, and he can keep publishing while in prison-- indeed, he will have more time for research, and he's a theorist, so lack of RA's, computers, etc. won't hamper him. He has gained alimony he would have had to pay-- say, 20% of income for a 30-year period. He has also gained his half of the household assets-- perhaps 6 times his annual income.

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