M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Stephen Gibson

Thursday, April 11, 4:15-5:45pm 
M-RCBG Conference Room (Belfer-102)

One of the key goals of many environmental, health, and safety regulations is to save lives. As a result, the value of reducing the risk of death is an important determinant of the benefits of numerous regulations, and many government agencies and other organizations have developed default estimates for application in regulatory and other benefit-cost analyses. These estimates are conventionally referred to as the value per statistical life (VSL), but the underlying concept is frequently misunderstood. VSL does not measure the value of saving an individual’s life, rather it refers to the willingness to trade-off income against a small change in risk within a defined time period. In this study group session, we will explore the conceptual framework for these values, the methods used to estimate them, and the defaults recommended for application by various government agencies.

Lisa A. Robinson, Deputy Director, Center for Health Decision Science; Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health Decision Science and Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Ms. Robinson is a former M-RCBG Senior Fellow whose research and teaching focus on the conduct of benefit-cost analysis. She has led numerous assessments of the costs, benefits, and other impacts of environmental, health, and safety policies and regulations, developed related methods, and drafted guidance documents. She has developed approaches for estimating the value of mortality risk reductions (the value per statistical life, VSL) for several government agencies and other organizations. These include, for example, guidelines for the analysis of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations and of global health interventions. 

Stephen Gibson is an M-RCBG Fellow and Chair of the UK Regulatory Policy Committee which reviews the evidence and analysis underpinning UK Government regulations and assesses whether they are fit for purpose.

Mr. Gibson is a former Chief Economist at Postcomm (the UK postal regulator), Ofwat (the UK water regulator) and Ofcom (the UK communications regulator). He led a number of detailed cost-benefit analyses of policies to regulate the advertising of junk food. This relied for its benefits assessment on a detailed investigation into the likely reduction in statistical lives lost due to obesity-related illnesses as a result of the policy and consideration of how to value those benefits using different VSL approaches. 

This event is open only to those with an active HUID. Registration is not necessary

M-RCBG welcomes individuals with disabilities to participate in its programs. To request accommodations or ask questions about access provided, please email: mrcbg@hks.harvard.edu

Stephen Gibson head shot, dark suit jacket, white shirt, dark tieStephen Gibson is an expert in UK regulation and regulatory economics with over 25 years’ experience of leading major economic and regulation projects across the aviation, rail, water, telecoms, postal, broadcasting and ports sectors.  Stephen is Chair of the UK government’s Regulatory Policy Committee which independently scrutinises the evidence and analysis underpinning government regulatory measures and verifies the costs to business of government regulation. In 2011 he set up SLG Economics, an economics consultancy providing expert competition and regulatory economics advice to government, regulators and regulated companies. From 2011 until 2017 he ran the Regulators’ Forum to update UK economic regulators on developments in regulatory economics and regulatory policy. Stephen has been a member of the Civil Aviation Authority’s expert panel since 2019, providing advice on the regulation of Heathrow and NATS. He has regularly appeared on TV and Radio, being interviewed about regulatory developments particularly in the postal sector. Stephen has been Chief Economist and Director of Economic Policy at Postcomm, Interim Chief Economist at Ofwat, Principal Economist at Ofcom, Head of Economics at Network Rail, and a special advisor on regulation to the Office of Rail Regulation and the CAA. He was a lecturer at City University, London on their MSc in Competition and Regulation and has lectured for over 15 years at Birkbeck University on their MSc in Applied Economics. He has run training courses in regulatory and competition economics for Ofwat, ORR, the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator and the Department for Transport. Stephen has an MA in Economics and Management Studies from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and has postgraduate qualifications in Computer Science (Cambridge University), Accounting and Finance (ACCA), EU Competition Law (Kings College London), Health Economics (Middlesex University) and Corporate Finance (London Business School). He was the external supervisor for a PhD in rail regulation at Cambridge University and has published articles on regulation, rail charging and postal economics in leading academic books and journals. As an M-RCBG Senior Fellow, Stephen will be researching the regulatory framework used by Government departments and sectoral regulators to introduce new regulations in the UK. His faculty sponsor is Jason Furman, Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Email: stephengibson@hks.harvard.edu