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Clearing the cobwebs: An analysis of the timing of youth concussion legislation in U.S. states


  • Rotolo, Thomas
  • Lengefeld, Michael


After decades of ignoring head injury in youth sports, U.S. states passed youth concussion legislation with stipulations about when athletes can return to play. Why were some states slower to pass laws than others? We consider this question through the lens of institutional medicalization, where medically informed policies are enacted. Our study recognizes the uneven nature of policy enactment across time and space with event history methods. We explore the influence of high school sport participation and other variables on the timing of legislation in all fifty states, 2007–2014. States with more high school football participation, as well as states with a strong college football presence, passed concussion laws later. Conversely, states with stronger orientations toward gender egalitarianism adopted laws sooner. These factors reflect sources of receptivity and resistance that underlie the process of institutional medicalization. Our approach offers one of the few quantitative studies of institutional medicalization and provides a template for future quantitative research in this area.

Suggested Citation

  • Rotolo, Thomas & Lengefeld, Michael, 2020. "Clearing the cobwebs: An analysis of the timing of youth concussion legislation in U.S. states," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 265(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:265:y:2020:i:c:s0277953620307103
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113491

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pascal Courty & Jeffrey Cisyk, 2024. "Sports injuries and game stakes: Concussions in the National Football League," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 62(1), pages 430-448, January.
    2. Jeffrey Cisyk & Pascal Courty, 2024. "An Economic Approach to Sports Injury Policies," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 25(3), pages 388-419, April.

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