How Much Does Murder, Suicide, and Abortion Cost?

What I am about to do in this post is not a scientific study or a statistically accurate scholarly treatise, and I could fairly be accused of misusing numbers. But I merely want to make a point. And here it is: Murder, abortion, and suicide are financially disastrous for our nation, and that fact is minor when compared to what we really loose.

The Dollar Value of Human Life

Some sectors of industry need to place a monetary value on a human life in order to accurately conduct their business. Of course, we know that in the United States it is currently illegal to buy or sell human beings, and thus, humans are legally considered priceless. No amount of money would suffice to purchase a slave, for example. Not even Mark Zuckerberg could do it. Nevertheless, some businesses and organizations still need some dollar figure they can use to fiscally measure what a human is worth.

Life insurance companies do this, for example. One salesperson came to my house and asked me how much my wife would need to replace me if I died. I said a million. My wife said fifty bucks. You know how it goes. [not a true story, just a little joke]

Two government organizations which have publicly placed a value on human life are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The FDA says the average fiscal worth of one human life is $7.9 million, while the EPA suggests it closer to $9.1 million. In the broad scope of things, they aren’t that far off from each other, though if you are considering a government job, you might want to check with the EPA first. They probably offer a better benefits package. [another little joke there]

Now these figures offered by the FDA and EPA are averages, based on many factors, and are apparently really tough to understand. I don’t claim to understand them. But I would like to use one of them to do a little simple math.

Counting the Costs

For the purpose of this illustration, let’s use the lower number offered by the FDA’s opinion of the value of human life: $7,900,000. Let’s multiply that figure by the number of murders that occurred in 2013 in the United States: 14,827.

That equals: $117,133,300,000 (that is $117.1 billion or a crazy large amount of money).

Okay, now take the FDA’s opinion and multiply it by the number of times in 2013 that somebody committed suicide: 41,149.

That equals: 325,077,100,000 (that is $325 billion or enough to run, for nearly two years, the US government’s Dept of Health and Human Services, Dept of Education, Dept of Housing and Urban Development, and Dept of Agriculture).

Finally, take the FDA’s opinion and multiply it by the estimated number of abortions that occurred in 2013 in the USA: 984,000.

That equals: $7,773,600,000,000 (that is $7.8 trillion or enough money that if you could make a stack of that many one dollar bills, the stack would reach from the earth to the moon and over 3/4 of the way back).

Now, time for the grand finally!

  • Murder: $117,133,300,000
  • Suicide: $325,077,100,000
  • Abortion: $7,773,600,000,000

Add them all together and you get: $8,215,810,400,000 (that is $8.2 trillion or enough money to run the entire federal government for well over two years at $3.8 trillion per year).

I know, I know – I said it at the beginning! I realize I am misusing these numbers, so all statisticians please withhold your comments. I get it. The FDA’s value of human life number is not an accurate way to think about money lost due to murder, suicide, and abortion. Even Wikipedia speaks of this dollar value like this:

In social and political sciences, it is the marginal cost of death prevention in a certain class of circumstances. In many studies the value also includes the quality of life, the expected life time remaining, as well as the earning potential of a given person especially for an after the fact payment in lawsuits for wrongful death.

But I’m just trying to make a point. The fact is, the fiscal value of a human life is not less than $7.9 million, but much more. In fact, in my meager opinion, the value of every individual human being on the planet (regardless of net worth, ability to boost the economy, social standing, vocation, etc.) is worth more than all of the money in the world taken as a whole, plus all the gold, silver, and other precious metals, and all diamonds, gems, and whatever else is worth something. By the way, this includes individuals who disagree with my last statement.

So, yes, I am misusing numbers. But all I am really doing is making a point.

In 2013, an estimated 1,039,976 people died in the United States as a result of murder, suicide, or abortion. As a result, our nation has lost tens of thousands of talented and creative people (I know there would have been plenty of bad apples in the bunch, too, but that is not my point). Thousands and thousands of those lost would have been brilliant politicians, business owners, executives, college professors, teachers, musicians, artists, clergy, and so on. But they are all gone, and so is all of their value.

We have lost a ton of money – whatever the real amount would be – through the destruction of these lives. But more than that, we’ve needlessly lost a huge swath of the priceless Image of God. And that was 2013.

Sources: Value of Life (Wikipedia), As U.S. Agencies Put More Value on a Life, Businesses Fret (NY Times), The Value of a Human Life: $129,000 (Time – This article speaks of the value of human life as $129,000 per year of quality life).