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American Economic Review: Vol. 101 No. 3 (May 2011)


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Fuel Economy, Car Class Mix, and Safety

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Jacobsen, Mark R. 2011. "Fuel Economy, Car Class Mix, and Safety." American Economic Review, 101(3): 105-09.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.3.105


Fuel economy standards change the composition of the vehicle fleet, potentially influencing accident fatality risks. I estimate the direction and magnitude of this impact, introducing a correction for selection on driver behavior. A policy application using my new estimates shows that the present distinction between light trucks and cars in fuel economy rules has very negative consequences for overall safety: Each MPG increment to the standard results in an additional 150 fatalities per year in expectation. My correction for selection is pivotal in this finding. I then demonstrate a simple alternative regulation that can produce near-zero changes in accident fatalities.

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Jacobsen, Mark R. (U CA, San Diego)

JEL Classifications

L62: Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment
R41: Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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