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4 Examples of Relative Risk

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Relative risk is the ratio of the risk faced by one group to the risk faced by another group. This can be used to express the risk of a state, behavior or strategy as compared to a baseline risk.


Relative risk is based on the probabilities of risk for two different groups as follows.
Relative risk = group-1-probability / group-2-probability

Example #1

People who smoke have a 10% lifetime chance of developing a particular type of cancer. Non-smokers have a 0.5% chance of developing the cancer.
Relative risk = 0.10 / 0.005 = 20
This means that smokers are 20 times as likely to get the disease as non-smokers.

Example #2

Snowboarders in their 20s have a 1% chance of an injury requiring a hospital visit in a year. Non-snowboarders in their 20s have a 0.5% chance.
Relative risk = 0.01 / 0.005 = 2
As such, snowboarders in this age group are twice as likely to require a hospital visit for an injury.

Example #3

A company with a high debt load has a 40% chance of going bankrupt in the next 5 years. The average for comparable companies of the same size is a risk of 0.5% over five years.
Relative risk = 0.40 / 0.005 = 80
The company is 80 times more likely to go bankrupt than its peers.


Examples are illustrative.
Overview: Relative Risk
The ratio of the risk faced by one group to the risk faced by another group.
Also Known As
Risk Ratio
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