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Fear of Flying? Economic Analysis of Airline Safety

  • Nancy L. Rose

The safety of the commercial airline industry has attracted considerable attention in the wake of airline deregulation, amid growing concerns that the historical superiority of U.S. jet carriers' safety records may have been linked to economic regulation of the industry by the Civil Aeronautics Board. These worries have energized economic research on a broad range of questions relating to airline safety. I describe our progress in answering four questions: First, has airline safety declined since deregulation? Second, how has airline deregulation affected the safety of travelers overall, (taking into account indirect channels through which airline deregulation may have changed travel risks, including the substitution of commuter airlines for jet service and the replacement of highway driving by air travel)? Third, what accounts for differences in safety performance across carriers? Fourth, what are the market penalties for airline accidents? (If consumers and insurance companies penalize airlines with worse safety records, carriers may be disinclined to reduce safety investment, even if regulatory changes would permit them to do so.)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.6.2.75
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 6 (1992)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 75-94

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:6:y:1992:i:2:p:75-94
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.6.2.75
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  1. D. Mark Kennet, 1993. "Did Deregulation Affect Aircraft Engine Maintenance? An Empirical Policy Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(4), pages 542-558, Winter.
  2. Chalk, Andrew J, 1987. "Market Forces and Commercial Aircraft Safety," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(1), pages 61-81, September.
  3. Rose, Nancy L, 1990. "Profitability and Product Quality: Economic Determinants of Airline Safety Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 944-64, October.
  4. Golbe, Devra L, 1986. "Safety and Profits in the Airline Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(3), pages 305-18, March.
  5. Chalk, Andrew, 1986. "Market Forces and Aircraft Safety: The Case of the DC-10," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(1), pages 43-60, January.
  6. Mitchell, Mark L & Maloney, Michael T, 1989. "Crisis in the Cockpit? The Role of Market Forces in Promoting Air Travel Safety," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 329-55, October.
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