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Evidence that Seat Belts are as Effective as Child Safety Seats in Preventing Death for Children Aged Two and Up

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  • Steven D. Levitt

Abstract

Over the last thirty years, the use of child safety seats in motor vehicles has increased dramatically, fueled by well publicized information campaigns and legal mandates. In spite of this movement, there is relatively little empirical evidence regarding the efficacy of child safety seats relative to the much cheaper alternative of traditional seat belts. Using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) on all fatal crashes in the United States from 1975-2003, I find that child safety seats, in actual practice, are no better than seat belts at reducing fatalities among children aged 2-6. This result is robust to a wide range of sensitivity analyses, including controlling for sample selection that arises because the FARS data set includes only crashes in which at least one fatality occurs.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11591.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11591.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Publication status: published as Steven D. Levitt, 2008. "Evidence that Seat Belts Are as Effective as Child Safety Seats in Preventing Death for Children Aged Two and Up," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 158-163, 07.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11591

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  1. David C. Grabowski & Michael A. Morrisey, 2004. "Gasoline prices and motor vehicle fatalities," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 575-593.
  2. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 435-454, August.
  3. Alma Cohen & Rajeev Dehejia, 2003. "The Effect of Automobile Insurance and Accident Liability Laws in Traffic Fatalities," NBER Working Papers 9602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Saffer, Henry & Grossman, Michael, 1987. "Drinking Age Laws and Highway Mortality Rates: Cause and Effect," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(3), pages 403-17, July.
  5. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
  6. Lave, Charles & Elias, Patrick, 1997. "Resource Allocation in Public Policy: The Effects of the 65-MPH Speed Limit," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(3), pages 614-20, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Steven D. Levitt & Joseph J. Doyle, 2006. "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Safety Seats and Seat Belts in Protecting Children from Injury," NBER Working Papers 12519, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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