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Saved By The Morning Bell: School Start Time And Teen Car Accidents

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  • Valerie K. Bostwick

Abstract

Adolescents today suffer from chronic sleep deprivation due to a combination of biological changes to the circadian clock and early morning school bell times. Many school districts are now considering delaying high school start times to accommodate the sleep schedules of teens. This paper explores whether such policy changes can have an unexpected impact on teen car accident rates. This impact could function both through a direct effect on teen sleep deprivation and indirectly through changes to the driving environment, that is, shifting the time and conditions under which teens commute to school. By focusing on late‐night accidents and employing a difference‐in‐differences strategy using adult drivers as a control group, I find evidence of a persistent sleep deprivation mechanism. A 15‐minute delay in school start time causes a significant decrease in late‐night teen accidents of approximately 23%. However, I also find evidence of an opposing mechanism that is present during the morning commuting hours. A 15‐minute delay in high school start time leads to a 21% increase in morning teen car accidents. (JEL I29, J13, R41)

Suggested Citation

  • Valerie K. Bostwick, 2018. "Saved By The Morning Bell: School Start Time And Teen Car Accidents," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 591-606, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:36:y:2018:i:4:p:591-606
    DOI: 10.1111/coep.12277
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Groen, Jeffrey A. & Pabilonia, Sabrina Wulff, 2019. "Snooze or lose: High school start times and academic achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 204-218.
    2. Bostwick, Valerie & Fischer, Stefanie & Lang, Matthew, 2019. "Semesters or Quarters? The Effect of the Academic Calendar on Postsecondary Student Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 12429, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I29 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Other
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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