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Heavy alcohol use and youth suicide: Evidence from tougher drunk driving laws

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  • Christopher Carpenter

    (University of California, Irvine)

Abstract

This paper uses the widespread variation across states in the timing of adoption of tougher drunk driving laws that set very low legal blood alcohol limits for drivers under age 21-“zero tolerance” (ZT) laws-to provide new evidence on the causal effect of alcohol use on youth suicide. ZT laws reduced heavy episodic drinking by underage men, with no effect for slightly older males. I estimate the reduced form effect of ZT policy adoption on suicide deaths among 15-17-, 18-20-, 21-24-, and 25-29-year-old males and females for the period 1981-1998. The models control for macroeconomic conditions, demographic changes, other alcohol control policies, state and year fixed effects, and smooth state trends. Results indicate statistically significant reductions in suicide among young males aged 15-17 and 18-20 associated with adoption of ZT laws on the order of 7 to 10 percent. I find no effects for slightly older males who were unaffected by the tougher drunk driving laws, and no consistent effects for females. These results provide new and compelling evidence that heavy alcohol use causes young male suicide. © 2004 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Carpenter, 2004. "Heavy alcohol use and youth suicide: Evidence from tougher drunk driving laws," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(4), pages 831-842.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:23:y:2004:i:4:p:831-842 DOI: 10.1002/pam.20049
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    2. Philip J. Cook & Michael J. Moore, 2001. "Environment and Persistence in Youthful Drinking Patterns," NBER Chapters,in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 375-438 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sloan, Frank A & Reilly, Bridget A & Schenzler, Christoph, 1995. "Effects of Tort Liability and Insurance on Heavy Drinking and Drinking and Driving," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 49-77, April.
    4. Carpenter, Christopher, 2004. "How do Zero Tolerance Drunk Driving Laws work?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 61-83, January.
    5. Sara Markowitz & Pinka Chatterji & Robert Kaestner & Dhaval Dave, 2002. "Substance Use and Suicidal Behaviors Among Young Adults," NBER Working Papers 8810, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1992:82:1:112-115_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Daniel Eisenberg, 2003. "Evaluating the effectiveness of policies related to drunk driving," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 249-274.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lindo, Jason M. & Swensen, Isaac D. & Waddell, Glen R., 2013. "Alcohol and student performance: Estimating the effect of legal access," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 22-32.
    2. Cooper, James C. & Wright, Joshua D., 2012. "Alcohol, antitrust, and the 21st Amendment: An empirical examination of post and hold laws," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 379-392.
    3. Pinka Chatterji & Jeffrey DeSimone, 2006. "High School Alcohol Use and Young Adult Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12529, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Philip J. Cook & Jan Ostermann & Frank A. Sloan, 2005. "Are Alcohol Excise Taxes Good For Us? Short and Long-Term Effects on Mortality Rates," NBER Working Papers 11138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Christopher Carpenter & Carlos Dobkin, 2009. "The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Mortality: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the Minimum Drinking Age," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 164-182, January.
    6. Christopher Carpenter & Carlos Dobkin, 2011. "The Minimum Legal Drinking Age and Public Health," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 133-156, Spring.
    7. Carpenter, Christopher, 2005. "Youth alcohol use and risky sexual behavior: evidence from underage drunk driving laws," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 613-628, May.
    8. Christopher S. Carpenter, 2005. "Heavy Alcohol Use and the Commission of Nuisance Crime: Evidence from Underage Drunk Driving Laws," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 267-272, May.
    9. repec:eee:jbfina:v:85:y:2017:i:c:p:132-145 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Hansen, Benjamin & Lang, Matthew, 2011. "Back to school blues: Seasonality of youth suicide and the academic calendar," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 850-861, October.
    11. Anderson, D. Mark & Rees, Daniel I. & Sabia, Joseph J., 2012. "High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide," IZA Discussion Papers 6280, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Cuffe, Harold E. & Gibbs, Christopher G., 2017. "The effect of payday lending restrictions on liquor sales," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 132-145.

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