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Not All Silver Lining? The Great Recession and Road Traffic Accidents

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  • Paola Bertoli
  • Veronica Grembi
  • Judit Vall Castello

Abstract

We provide new evidence on the impact of recessions on traffic accidents, by exploiting the case of Spain, where the effects of the 2008 economic crisis have been among the strongest in the developed world. We exploit differences in the incidence of the recession across Spanish provinces due to the unequal evolution of the real estate bubble across the territory. We use a unique dataset on the universe of traffic accidents in Spain between 2004 and 2011. We first follow the literature on the topic and examine the impact of the economic crisis on the probability of having a traffic accident. However, we also go one step further, as we are able to identify any changes in the composition of both victims and driving behaviors as a result of the crisis. First, our results show that the Great Recession reduced traffic accidents in Spain. Second, for the compositional effects, we report decreased probabilities of dying or reporting a serious injury. More importantly, we also detect an increase in the probability that people involved in an accident abuse alcohol and drugs. Our results are robust to different measures of the treatment (i.e., employment in the construction sector) and the use of a spatial fixed effects model and are not biased by anticipatory effects. Finally, we show that our findings are driven by less-populated areas. Thus, we suggest that alcohol and drug control measures be reinforced during recessions and more attention should be devoted to rural areas to to strengthen the reduction of road traffic accidents.

Suggested Citation

  • Paola Bertoli & Veronica Grembi & Judit Vall Castello, 2017. "Not All Silver Lining? The Great Recession and Road Traffic Accidents," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp611, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  • Handle: RePEc:cer:papers:wp611
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cotti Chad & Tefft Nathan, 2011. "Decomposing the Relationship between Macroeconomic Conditions and Fatal Car Crashes during the Great Recession: Alcohol- and Non-Alcohol-Related Accidents," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-24, August.
    2. Cristina Bellés‐Obrero & Sergi Jiménez‐Martín & Judit Vall‐Castello, 2016. "Bad Times, Slimmer Children?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(S2), pages 93-112, November.
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    4. repec:wly:hlthec:v:25:y:2016:i::p:93-112 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Martin Bassols, Nicolau & Vall Castelló, Judit, 2016. "Effects of the great recession on drugs consumption in Spain," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 103-116.
    6. Douglas L. Miller & Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens & Mateusz Filipski, 2009. "Why Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 122-127, May.
    7. Michael L. Anderson & Maximilian Auffhammer, 2014. "Pounds That Kill: The External Costs of Vehicle Weight," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 535-571.
    8. Vikram Maheshri & Clifford Winston, 2016. "Did the Great Recession keep bad drivers off the road?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 255-280, June.
    9. Ainhoa Aparicio-Fenoll, 2016. "Returns to Education and Educational Outcomes: The Case of the Spanish Housing Boom," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(2), pages 235-265.
    10. Romem, Issi & Shurtz, Ity, 2016. "The accident externality of driving: Evidence from observance of the Jewish Sabbath in Israel," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 36-54.
    11. Paola Bertoli & Veronica Grembi, 2017. "The life‐saving effect of hospital proximity," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(S2), pages 78-91, September.
    12. Mark R. Jacobsen, 2013. "Fuel Economy and Safety: The Influences of Vehicle Class and Driver Behavior," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 1-26, July.
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    14. repec:wly:hlthec:v:26:y:2017:i::p:78-91 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Rahi Abouk & Scott Adams, 2013. "Texting Bans and Fatal Accidents on Roadways: Do They Work? Or Do Drivers Just React to Announcements of Bans?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 179-199, April.
    16. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2015. "Recessions, healthy no more?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 17-28.
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    Cited by:

    1. R. Brau & M. G. Nieddu & S. Balia, 2021. "Depowering Risk: Vehicle Power Restriction and Teen Driver Accidents in Italy," Working Paper CRENoS 202101, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    2. Bertoli, Paola & Grembi, Veronica, 2021. "The political cycle of road traffic accidents," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    3. Piera Bello, 2020. "The environmental cost and the accident externality of driving: Evidence from the Swiss franc’s appreciation," IdEP Economic Papers 2001, USI Università della Svizzera italiana.

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    Keywords

    recession; traffic accidents; Spain; economic crisis; spatial fixed effects model;
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