The cost-effectiveness of capturing Osama bin Laden

So here’s an idea. I’m a fairly economic-evaluationish kind of Economist, Econometrician, Health Economist, etc. It’s a problem-viewing paradigm that appeals to me greatly – I’m a dismal scientist.

So I was reading the Guardian article about Morgan Spurlock’s latest film, Where In The World is Osama Bin Laden?. The piece remarked, in passing, upon bin Laden’s still-USD25m ‘bounty’:

FBI wanted poster

Here’s the idea: assume that you had no advantage over the average person, with respect to the location, pursuit or capture of Osama bin Laden.

Suppose, though, that what you did have was USD25m. Including search costs, travel, materiel, discounting for risk/danger: would it be cost-effective to go after Osama bin Laden? If you could do it for exactly USD25m you’d come out even, monetarily – the danger would make it not cost-effective (because the USD25m reward is worth less in expectation – particularly if there’s a risk of death), but the cache of being the person who captured bin Laden might make it cost-effective even at a higher cost than USD25m (i.e. how much would you be willing to pay purely for that infamy?).

Could an ordinary person go after, and bring in, Osama bin Laden, for that amount of money?

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3 comments so far

  1. Nick on

    Surely the cost effectiveness depends most on the probability of success and then your relative risk aversion? My insight into bounty hunters begins with Bobba Fett and ends with Juliette Lewis in My Name is Earl, but i would say that for Osama the probability of success is low, plus the risks are high.

  2. opit on

    Not to mention, the Bin Laden deal was likely a scam perpetrated by the CIA – and Bhutto was said to have been killed, in part, for blowing ‘confidential’ information : one item of which was , tah-dah – he’s dead already !

  3. alex on

    osama bin laden is in nz Dunedin


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