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Breaking the Link Between Legal Access to Alcohol and Motor Vehicle Accidents: Evidence from New South Wales

  • Jason M. Lindo
  • Peter Siminski
  • Oleg Yerokhin

A large literature has documented significant public health benefits associated with the minimum legal drinking age in the United States, particularly because of the resulting effects on motor vehicle accidents. These benefits form the primary basis for continued efforts to restrict youth access to alcohol. It is important to keep in mind, though, that policymakers have a wide variety of alcohol-control options available to them, and understanding how these policies may complement or substitute for one another can improve policy making moving forward. Towards this end, we propose that investigating the causal effects of the minimum legal drinking age in New South Wales, Australia provides a particularly informative case study, because Australian states are among the world leaders in their efforts against drunk driving. Using an age-based regression-discontinuity design applied to restricted-use data from several sources, we find no evidence that legal access to alcohol has effects on motor vehicle accidents of any type in New South Wales, despite having large effects on drinking and on hospitalizations due to alcohol abuse.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19857.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19857
Note: HE LE PE
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  1. Dee, Thomas S., 1999. "State alcohol policies, teen drinking and traffic fatalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 289-315, May.
  2. 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 164-82, January.
  3. David E. Card & David S. Lee & Zhuan Pei & Andrea Weber, 2012. "Nonlinear Policy Rules and the Identification and Estimation of Causal Effects in a Generalized Regression Kink Design," NRN working papers 2012-14, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  4. Lindo, Jason M. & Swensen, Isaac D. & Waddell, Glen R., 2011. "Alcohol and Student Performance: Estimating the Effect of Legal Access," IZA Discussion Papers 5525, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  8. Fertig, Angela R. & Watson, Tara, 2009. "Minimum drinking age laws and infant health outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 737-747, May.
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  12. Christopher Carpenter & Carlos Dobkin, 2010. "Alcohol Regulation and Crime," NBER Working Papers 15828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Lovenheim, Michael F. & Slemrod, Joel, 2010. "The fatal toll of driving to drink: The effect of minimum legal drinking age evasion on traffic fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 62-77, January.
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  17. Christopher Carpenter, 2006. "Did Ontario's Zero Tolerance & Graduated Licensing Law reduce youth drunk driving?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(1), pages 183-195.
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