An Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol Policies on Youth STDs
The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of alcohol policies in reducing the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among youth. Previous research has shown that risky sexual practices (e.g., unprotected sex and multiple partners) that increase the risk of contracting a STD are highly correlated with alcohol use. If alcohol is a cause of risky sexual behavior, then policies that reduce the consumption of alcohol may also reduce the incidence of STDs. In this paper, we examine the relationship between alcohol policies (e.g., beer taxes and statutes pertaining to alcohol sales and drunk driving) and rates of gonorrhea and AIDS among teenagers and young adults. Results indicate that higher beer taxes are associated with lower rates of gonorrhea for males and are suggestive of lower AIDS rates. Strict drunk driving policies in the form of zero tolerance laws may also lower the gonorrhea rate among males under the legal drinking age.
An NBER digest for this paper is available.