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June 17, 1916


JAMA. 1916;LXVI(25):1927-1928. doi:10.1001/jama.1916.02580510029013

The enthusiasts who emphasize, quite properly, the benefits which arise from the conservation of health often attempt to strike the popular imagination by venturing money estimates of the preventable wastes from disease and death. The Report on National Vitality, prepared for the National Conservation Commission by Irving Fisher,1 finds one and a half billions of dollars as the lowest estimate of the avertable loss from disease and death in this country. It is even asserted that the true figures from the statistics available may well amount to several times this figure; but when statistics are based more or less on conjecture, they need to be stated with special caution.

Of course, such figures have little significance beyond emphasizing the overwhelming importance of human vitality compared with those interests which are usually measured in money. Disease means human misery which cannot be measured; it also means poverty and crime, twin