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Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?

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  • Jeffrey A. Miron
  • Elina Tetelbaum

Abstract

The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) is widely believed to save lives by reducing traffic fatalities among underage drivers. Further, the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act, which pressured all states to adopt an MLDA of 21, is regarded as having contributed enormously to this life saving effect. This paper challenges both claims. State-level panel data for the past 30 years show that any nationwide impact of the MLDA is driven by states that increased their MLDA prior to any inducement from the federal government. Even in early adopting states, the impact of the MLDA did not persist much past the year of adoption. The MLDA appears to have only a minor impact on teen drinking.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13257.

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Date of creation: Jul 2007
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Publication status: published as Jeffrey A. Miron & Elina Tetelbaum, 2009. "Does The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(2), pages 317-336, 04.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13257

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  1. R. Kaestner, 2000. "A note on the effect of minimum drinking age laws on youth alcohol consumption," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(3), pages 315-325, 07.
  2. Dee, Thomas S., 1999. "State alcohol policies, teen drinking and traffic fatalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 289-315, May.
  3. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages F672-94, November.
  4. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 435-454, August.
  5. Carpenter Christopher S & Kloska Deborah D & O'Malley Patrick & Johnston Lloyd, 2007. "Alcohol Control Policies and Youth Alcohol Consumption: Evidence from 28 Years of Monitoring the Future," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-23, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Mark L. Hoekstra & Scott Carrell & James West, 2008. "Does Drinking Impair College Performance? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Approach," Working Papers, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics 356, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2008.
  2. Ceren Ertan Yoruk & Baris Yoruk, 2013. "Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behavior Among Young Adults: Evidence from Minimum Legal Drinking Age Laws," Discussion Papers, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics 13-11, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  3. Yörük, BarIs K. & Yörük, Ceren Ertan, 2011. "The impact of minimum legal drinking age laws on alcohol consumption, smoking, and marijuana use: Evidence from a regression discontinuity design using exact date of birth," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 740-752, July.
  4. Donald Freeman, 2012. "Income and Preventable Mortality: The Case of Youth Traffic Fatalities," Working Papers, Sam Houston State University, Department of Economics and International Business 1201, Sam Houston State University, Department of Economics and International Business.
  5. Fertig, Angela R. & Watson, Tara, 2009. "Minimum drinking age laws and infant health outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 737-747, May.
  6. Ertan Yörük, Ceren & Yörük, Barış K., 2012. "The impact of drinking on psychological well-being: Evidence from minimum drinking age laws in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 75(10), pages 1844-1854.
  7. Lovenheim, Michael F. & Slemrod, Joel, 2010. "The fatal toll of driving to drink: The effect of minimum legal drinking age evasion on traffic fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 62-77, January.
  8. Beth A. Freeborn & Brian McManus, 2010. "Substance Abuse Treatment and Motor Vehicle Fatalities," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 1032-1048, April.
  9. Darren Grant, 2011. "Politics, Policy Analysis, and the Passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984," Working Papers, Sam Houston State University, Department of Economics and International Business 1103, Sam Houston State University, Department of Economics and International Business.
  10. Robert Kaestner & Benjamin Yarnoff, 2011. "Long-Term Effects of Minimum Legal Drinking Age Laws on Adult Alcohol Use and Driving Fatalities," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 325 - 363.
  11. Ryan Rodenberg & Daniel Stone, 2011. "The Short and Long-Run Labor Market Effects of Age Eligibility Rules: Evidence from Women’s Professional Tennis," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 181-198, June.
  12. Dills, Angela K., 2010. "Social host liability for minors and underage drunk-driving accidents," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 241-249, March.

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