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Sex Under the Influence: The Effect of Alcohol Policy on Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates in the United States

  • Chesson, Harrell
  • Harrison, Paul
  • Kassler, William J
Registered author(s):

    This article presents evidence that sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates are responsive to increases in alcohol taxes and in the drinking age. The presumed relationship is that a more restrictive alcohol policy reduces alcohol consumption, which in turn decreases risky sexual activity. Reduced-form regressions of STD rates on state alcohol taxes for the years 1981-95 (with controls for state and year) indicate that a $1 increase in the per-gallon liquor tax reduces gonorrhea rates by 2.1 percent, and a beer tax increase of $.20 per six-pack reduces gonorrhea rates by 8.9 percent, with similar though more pronounced effects on syphilis rates. Quasi-experimental analysis of alcohol policy changes supports these findings and offers evidence that increases in the drinking age reduce STD rates among youth. The estimated external cost of alcohol-attributable STDs exceeds $556 million annually, a factor that could be considered in determining optimal alcohol policy. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467453
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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

    Volume (Year): 43 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 1 (April)
    Pages: 215-38

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:43:y:2000:i:1:p:215-38
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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    1. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
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    7. Henry Saffer & Frank Chaloupka, 1994. "Alcohol Tax Equalization and Social Costs," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 33-43, Winter.
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    9. Michael Grossman, 1989. "Health Benefits of Increases in Alcohol and Cigarette Taxes," NBER Working Papers 3082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Cook, Philip J. & Moore, Michael J., 1994. "This Tax's for You: The Case for Higher Beer Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(3), pages 559-73, September.
    11. Baltagi, Badi H. & Griffin, James M., 1997. "Pooled estimators vs. their heterogeneous counterparts in the context of dynamic demand for gasoline," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 303-327, April.
    12. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    14. Philip J. Cook & George Tauchen, 1982. "The Effect of Liquor Taxes on Heavy Drinking," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 379-390, Autumn.
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