NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Intended and Unintended Effects of Youth Bicycle Helmet Laws

Christopher S. Carpenter, Mark F. Stehr

NBER Working Paper No. 15658
Issued in January 2010
NBER Program(s):   CH   HE   LE

Over 20 states have adopted laws requiring youths to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. We confirm previous research indicating that these laws reduced fatalities and increased helmet use, but we also show that the laws significantly reduced youth bicycling. We find this result in standard two-way fixed effects models of parental reports of youth bicycling, as well as in triple difference models of self-reported bicycling among high school youths that explicitly account for bicycling by youths just above the helmet law age threshold. Our results highlight important intended and unintended consequences of a well-intentioned public policy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15658

Published: “Intended and Unintended Consequences of Youth Bicy cle Helmet Laws” Christopher Carpenter and Mark Stehr, Journal of Law and Economics (2011) 54(2): 305-324.

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