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Why Do Some Bikers Wear a Helmet and Others Don't? Evidence from Delhi, India


  • Michael Grimm

    () (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Passau University and IZA)

  • Carole Treibich

    () (Paris School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS & EHESS)


In many domains risky health behavior is still only poorly understood. Analysis is often plagued by incomplete data and a general lack of information. In this study; we try to understand the determinants of helmet use among motorcyclists in Delhi; a context in which road safety is very low. We use a very detailed data set collected especially for the purpose of the study. To guide our empirical analysis; we rely on a simple model in which drivers decide on their speed and helmet use. The empirical findings suggest that risk averse individuals are more likely to wear a helmet. We do not find any systematic effect of risk aversion on speed. Both findings are coherent with our theoretical model. Helmet use also increases with education. Drivers who show a higher awareness of road risks; because for instance; they are better informed about Delhi's actual road traffic accident fatality and injury rates; are both more likely to wear a helmet and to speed less. In turn; those drivers who show a high level of unawareness take the highest risks. Controlling for risk awareness; we observe that drivers tend to compensate between speed and helmet use. The most obvious solution to India's road safety problem and the related high social costs that result from it is to enforce the helmet law and speed limits. An alternative strategy; and probably more feasible in the current context; is to design interventions which raise awareness of road risks. Improvements to the road infrastructure are also a possible solution but these measures bear the risk that drivers will react to the improved road safety by either increasing speed or lowering helmet use.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Grimm & Carole Treibich, 2013. "Why Do Some Bikers Wear a Helmet and Others Don't? Evidence from Delhi, India," AMSE Working Papers 1348, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 10 Oct 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1348

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dionne, Georges & Eeckhoudt, Louis, 1985. "Self-insurance, self-protection and increased risk aversion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 39-42.
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    More about this item


    Road safety; helmet use; risky health behavior; self-protection; self-insurance; India;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development


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