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Evidence that Seat Belts Are as Effective as Child Safety Seats in Preventing Death for Children Aged Two and Up

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  • Steven D. Levitt

    (University of Chicago, Department of Economics, and American Bar Foundation)

Abstract

Over the past thirty years, the use of child safety seats in motor vehicles has increased dramatically. There is, however, relatively little empirical evidence regarding the efficacy of child safety seats relative to the much cheaper alternative of traditional seat belts. Using data on all fatal crashes in the United States from 1975 to 2003, I find that child safety seats, in actual practice, do not provide any discernible improvement over adult lap and shoulder belts in reducing fatalities among children aged two to six. Lap-only belts are somewhat less effective, but still far superior to riding unrestrained. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven D. Levitt, 2008. "Evidence that Seat Belts Are as Effective as Child Safety Seats in Preventing Death for Children Aged Two and Up," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 158-163, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:90:y:2008:i:1:p:158-163
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cohen, Alma & Dehejia, Rajeev, 2004. "The Effect of Automobile Insurance and Accident Liability Laws on Traffic Fatalities," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 357-393, October.
    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 614-620, July.
    3. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 435-454, August.
    4. David C. Grabowski & Michael A. Morrisey, 2004. "Gasoline prices and motor vehicle fatalities," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 575-593.
    5. Saffer, Henry & Grossman, Michael, 1987. "Drinking Age Laws and Highway Mortality Rates: Cause and Effect," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(3), pages 403-417, July.
    6. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lauren E. Jones & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2017. "U.S. Child Safety Seat Laws: Are they Effective, and Who Complies?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(3), pages 584-607, June.
    2. Lauren E. Jones & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2016. "Successful Scientific Replication and Extension of Levitt (2008): Child Seats are Still No Safer Than Seat Belts," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(5), pages 920-928, August.
    3. Anderson, D. Mark & Sandholt, Sina, 2016. "Booster Seats and Traffic Fatalities among Children," IZA Discussion Papers 10071, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Molitor, Ramona, 2017. "Publicly announced speed limit enforcement and its impact on road safety: Evidence from the German Blitzmarathons," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-75-17, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    5. Joseph J. Doyle & Steven D. Levitt, 2010. "Evaluating The Effectiveness Of Child Safety Seats And Seat Belts In Protecting Children From Injury," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 521-536, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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