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Sample Selection in the Estimation of Air Bag and Seat Belt Effectiveness

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  • Steven D. Levitt
  • Jack Porter

Abstract

Measurement of seat belt and air bag effectiveness is complicated by the fact that systematic data are collected only for crashes in which a fatality occurs. These data suffer from sample selection since seat belt and air bag usage influences survival rates which in turn determine whether a crash is included in the sample. Past researchers either ignored sample selection or adopted indirect estimation methods subject to other important biases. We propose a simple, but novel, solution to the selection problem: limiting the sample to crashes in which someone in a different vehicle dies. Under relatively weak conditions, consistent estimates can be obtained from this restricted sample. Empirically, we find seat belts to be more effective in saving lives than most previous estimates. Air bags, however, appear to be less effective than generally thought. If our coefficients can be generalized to all crashes, the cost per life saved with seat belts is approximately $30,000, compared to $1.6 million for air bags.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7210.

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Date of creation: Jul 1999
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Publication status: published as Levitt, Steven D. and Jack Porter. "Sample Selection In The Estimation Of Air Bag And Seat Belt Effectiveness," Review of Economics and Statistics, 2001, v83(4,Nov), 603-615.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7210

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  1. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 435-454, August.
  2. 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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  4. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
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  6. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  7. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
  8. Steven D. Levitt & Jack Porter, 1999. "Estimating the Effect of Alcohol on Driver Risk Using Only Fatal Accident Statistics," NBER Working Papers 6944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Michael Grossman & Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Saffer & Adit Laixuthai, 1993. "Effects of Alcohol Price Policy on Youth," NBER Working Papers 4385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Michael D. Makowsky & Thomas Stratmann, 2011. "More Tickets, Fewer Accidents: How Cash-Strapped Towns Make for Safer Roads," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 863 - 888.
  3. Henrik Andersson, 2005. "The Value of Safety as Revealed in the Swedish Car Market: An Application of the Hedonic Pricing Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 211-239, May.
  4. Clifford Winston & Vikram Maheshri & Fred Mannering, 2006. "An exploration of the offset hypothesis using disaggregate data: The case of airbags and antilock brakes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 83-99, March.
  5. Laurent Linnemer, 2012. "Compte rendu d'ouvrage -La société des inconnus : Histoire naturelle de la collectivité humaine," Post-Print hal-00939396, HAL.
  6. Parry, Ian W. H., 2004. "Comparing alternative policies to reduce traffic accidents," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 346-368, September.
  7. Garcia-Serrano, Carlos & Hernanz, Virginia & Toharia, Luis, 2008. "Mind the gap, please! The effect of temporary help agencies on the consequences of work accidents," ISER Working Paper Series 2008-28, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  8. Bae, Yong-Kyun, 2013. "Primary Seat-Belt Laws and Driver Behavior: Evidence from Accident Data," MPRA Paper 49823, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Sep 2013.
  9. Abay, Kibrom A. & Paleti, Rajesh & Bhat, Chandra R., 2013. "The joint analysis of injury severity of drivers in two-vehicle crashes accommodating seat belt use endogeneity," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 74-89.
  10. Brozovic, Nicholas & Ando, Amy Whritenour, 2009. "Defensive purchasing, the safety (dis)advantage of light trucks, and motor-vehicle policy effectiveness," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 477-493, June.
  11. Bande, Roberto & López-Mourelo, Elva, 2014. "The impact of worker’s age on the consequences of occupational accidents: empirical evidence using Spanish data," MPRA Paper 53097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Antonio Nicita & Simona Benedettini, 2012. "The Costs of Avoiding Accidents.Selective Compliance and the 'Peltzman Effect' in Italy," Department of Economics University of Siena 631, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  13. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa & Mariatiziana Falcone, 2010. "The Deterrent Effects of Penalty Point System in Driving Licenses: A Regression Discontinuity Approach," Working Papers 201004, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza (Ex Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica).
  14. Bae, Yong-Kyun, 2011. "Primary Seat Belt Laws and Offsetting Behavior: Empirical Evidence from Individual Accident Data," MPRA Paper 30443, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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