Alcohol Policies and Highway Vehicle Fatalities
NBER Working Paper No. 5195
This study investigates the impact of beer taxes and a variety of alcohol-control policies on motor vehicle fatality rates, using fixed- effect models with data for the 48 contiguous states over the 1982 through 1988 time period. The econometric findings highlight the fragility of the parameter estimates to reasonable changes in model specifications. Special attention is paid to omitted variables biases resulting from failing to adequately control for grassroots efforts to reduce drunk driving, the enactment of other laws which simultaneously operate to reduce highway fatalities, and the economic conditions existing at the time of the legislation. In the preferred specifications, most of the regulations have little or no impact on traffic mortality. By contrast, higher beer taxes are associated with reductions in crash deaths and this result is relatively robust across specifications. These findings suggest the limited ability of further regulatory action to reduce drunk-driving but point to a potentially significant role for higher alcohol taxes.
Published: Journal of Health Economics, Vol. 15, No. 4, August 1996, pp.435-454.