Alcohol Policies and Highway Vehicle Fatalities

Christopher J. Ruhm

NBER Working Paper No. 5195
Issued in July 1995
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

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.

download in pdf format
   (421 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5195

Published: Journal of Health Economics, Vol. 15, No. 4, August 1996, pp.435-454. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Chaloupka, Saffer, and Grossman w3831 Alcohol Control Policies and Motor Vehicle Fatalities
Saffer and Grossman w1914 Beer Taxes, the Legal Drinking Age, and Youth Motor Vehicle Fatalities
Miron and Tetelbaum w13257 Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?
Levitt and Porter w6944 Estimating the Effect of Alcohol on Driver Risk Using Only Fatal Accident Statistics
Ruhm, Snow Jones, Kerr, Greenfield, Terza, Pandian, and McGeary w17578 What U.S. Data Should be Used to Measure the Price Elasticity of Demand for Alcohol?
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us