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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 1 No. 1 (January 2009)

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The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Mortality: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the Minimum Drinking Age

Article Citation

Carpenter, Christopher, and Carlos Dobkin. 2009. "The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Mortality: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the Minimum Drinking Age." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(1): 164-82.

DOI: 10.1257/app.1.1.164

Abstract

We estimate the effect of alcohol consumption on mortality using the minimum drinking age in a regression discontinuity design. We find large and immediate increases in drinking at age 21, including a 21 percent increase in recent drinking days. We also find a discrete 9 percent increase in the mortality rate at age 21, primarily due to motor vehicle accidents, alcohol-related deaths, and suicides. We estimate a 10 percent increase in the number of drinking days for young adults results in a 4.3 percent increase in mortality. Our results suggest policies that reduce drinking among young adults can have substantial public health benefits. (JEL I12, I18)

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Authors

Carpenter, Christopher (U CA, Irvine)
Dobkin, Carlos (U CA, Santa Cruz)

JEL Classifications

I12: Health Production
I18: Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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