Russian daily Kommersant writes about the value of human life in Russia – this time not in numinous terms, but in rubles. Having reviewed government compensations and standard life insurance policies, Kommersant came to the conclusion that there is no widely accepted value: life of a person deceased in a psychiatric ward was estimated at 500.000 rubles (USD 7.867) by the government, accidental death from explosive ordnance brought 300.000 rubles (USD 4.720) in compensation, death in fires and floods – 1-2 million rubles (USD 15.735-31.470), death in terrorist attacks – 2-3 million rubles (USD 31.470-USD 47.205). Family of a child killed by malfeasance was awarded as much as 15 million rubles (USD 236.000) in a civil lawsuit. It could be worse: families of the 13 victims killed in a terrorist attack on Pushkin square in 2000 received approximately USD 1.000. For the sake of comparison, families of victims of the recent terrorist attack in Nice stand to receive approximately EUR 1 million for each killed relative from a special French government fund.
According to a Russian insurer “Rosgosstrah”, mandatory insurance in civil transportation covers the passengers up to 2 million rubles (USD 31.470). In their 2014 paper, Karabchuk, Nikitina, Remezkova and Soboleva used a mixture of indicators including projected lifetime earnings and estimated the value of human life in Russia at USD 1,6 million. This is still much lower than the respective figure in the United States (USD 6,7 million) or United Kingdom (USD 13 million).
Given that half of the working population in Russia lives on less than 23,5 thousand rubles (USD 370) per month, it is no wonder that most of them would consider 1-1,4 million rubles as a just compensation for the loss of human life, as the polls indicate. Even the Russian traffic police values human lives more than that: according to their calculations, it is justified to invest 11 million rubles (USD 173.000) to prevent the loss of a single human life.
One of the direct consequences of the low monetary value of human life in Russia is increased risk in domestic flights – since the potential liability for passenger death is much lower in Russia than abroad, Russian airlines can afford to risk flying outdated equipment on domestic routes. Citizens don’t seem to put too much value on their lives, either: while life insurance makes up 55-60% of total insurance premiums in Poland, Slovakia or Hungary, in Russia it accounts for mere 2%.
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