As an example, did the Treaty of Versailles assign some monetary value to each British human life lost during WW1 for reparation payments by Germany? Or the Geneva Conventions as another possibility?

If other historical treaties/laws are more relevant, what might those be?

Lastly, would these past arrangements still carry through to the modern day as a generic assignment of a person's monetary value, as a function of residency/citizenship in a legally-defined area (city, nation, etc)?

  • 2
    Monetary values are at least implicitly assigned to human lives all the time: In legislation, regulation, and in legal judgments. But I would be surprised if war reparations or conventions explicitly assigned financial values to lives.
    – feetwet
    Feb 5, 2017 at 3:34
  • This is two related but distinct questions. Please separate one to its own page.
    – user4657
    Feb 5, 2017 at 3:48

1 Answer 1


I don't know of about the treaty of Versailles, but the practice of assigning monetary values to people's lives for purposes of calculating compensation due is ancient indeed.

One of the oldest known bodies of law, the Code of Hammurabi, contains a large number of instances of payments/punishments required in recompense for infractions, with the amount or severity determined by the relative social positions of the offender and victim. The most famous portion of this is:

"Ex. Law #196: "If a man destroy the eye of another man, they shall destroy his eye. If one break a man's bone, they shall break his bone. If one destroy the eye of a freeman or break the bone of a freeman he shall pay one gold mina. If one destroy the eye of a man's slave or break a bone of a man's slave he shall pay one-half his price."

Another example is the concept of "weregild", a concept in Salic, Scandinavian and Germanic law, whereby the victim's family would be paid a sum based on the slain person's status, property and wealth. This is a more likely predecessor to the modern system of restitution due to the Germanic Law's place as an ancestor and inspiration for the English Common Law, which is widely used in the US and UK, as well as other locations in the British Commonwealth.

  • Why is it every time I write up an answer, I leave out words? Thank you for the edit, @feetwet!
    – sharur
    Feb 7, 2017 at 1:09
  • NP – some people are writers, some are editors ;)
    – feetwet
    Feb 7, 2017 at 1:46
  • Thank you for your answer, sharur - I think the notes on 'weregild' are more pertinent to my motive for the original questions. I was going to extend the line of thought & questioning to ask if such 'restitution' calculations apply to valuation of municipal/corporate city bonds, but that's more like two threads' worth I suppose.
    – CB001
    Feb 10, 2017 at 23:01

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