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Sex Under the Influence: The Effect of Alcohol Policy on Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates in the United States

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  • Chesson, Harrell
  • Harrison, Paul
  • Kassler, William J
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    Abstract

    This article presents evidence that sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates are responsive to increases in alcohol taxes and in the drinking age. The presumed relationship is that a more restrictive alcohol policy reduces alcohol consumption, which in turn decreases risky sexual activity. Reduced-form regressions of STD rates on state alcohol taxes for the years 1981-95 (with controls for state and year) indicate that a $1 increase in the per-gallon liquor tax reduces gonorrhea rates by 2.1 percent, and a beer tax increase of $.20 per six-pack reduces gonorrhea rates by 8.9 percent, with similar though more pronounced effects on syphilis rates. Quasi-experimental analysis of alcohol policy changes supports these findings and offers evidence that increases in the drinking age reduce STD rates among youth. The estimated external cost of alcohol-attributable STDs exceeds $556 million annually, a factor that could be considered in determining optimal alcohol policy. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

    Volume (Year): 43 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 1 (April)
    Pages: 215-38

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:43:y:2000:i:1:p:215-38

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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    Cited by:
    1. Bisakha Sen, 2003. "A preliminary investigation of the effects of restrictions on Medicaid funding for abortions on female STD rates," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(6), pages 453-464.
    2. Waddell, Glen R., 2010. "Gender and the Influence of Peer Alcohol Consumption on Adolescent Sexual Activity," IZA Discussion Papers 4880, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Cook, Philip J. & Durrance, Christine Piette, 2013. "The virtuous tax: Lifesaving and crime-prevention effects of the 1991 federal alcohol-tax increase," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 261-267.
    4. Francis, Andrew M., 2008. "The economics of sexuality: The effect of HIV/AIDS on homosexual behavior in the United States," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 675-689, May.
    5. Yamamura, Eiji, 2012. "Smokers’ Preference for Divorce and Extramarital Sex," MPRA Paper 40922, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Philip J. Cook & Michael J. Moore, 2001. "Environment and Persistence in Youthful Drinking Patterns," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 375-438 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Rees, Daniel I. & Argys, Laura M. & Averett, Susan L., 2001. "New evidence on the relationship between substance use and adolescent sexual behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 835-845, September.
    8. Cooper, James C. & Wright, Joshua D., 2012. "Alcohol, antitrust, and the 21st Amendment: An empirical examination of post and hold laws," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 379-392.
    9. Lindo, Jason M. & Swensen, Isaac D. & Waddell, Glen R., 2011. "Alcohol and Student Performance: Estimating the Effect of Legal Access," IZA Discussion Papers 5525, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Jon Nelson, 2003. "Advertising Bans, Monopoly, and Alcohol Demand: Testing for Substitution Effects using State Panel Data," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 1-25, February.
    11. Sen, Bisakha, 2003. "An indirect test for whether restricting Medicaid funding for abortion increases pregnancy-avoidance behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 155-163, November.
    12. Sen, Bisakha, 2002. "Does alcohol-use increase the risk of sexual intercourse among adolescents? Evidence from the NLSY97," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 1085-1093, November.
    13. Francis, Andrew M. & Mialon, Hugo M. & Peng, Handie, 2012. "In sickness and in health: Same-sex marriage laws and sexually transmitted infections," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1329-1341.
    14. Philip J. Cook & Christine Piette Durrance, 2011. "The Virtuous Tax: Lifesaving and Crime-Prevention Effects of the 1991 Federal Alcohol-Tax Increase," NBER Working Papers 17709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Rashad, Inas & Kaestner, Robert, 2004. "Teenage sex, drugs and alcohol use: problems identifying the cause of risky behaviors," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 493-503, May.

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