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Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?

38 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2007 Last revised: 23 Sep 2010

Jeffrey A. Miron

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Elina Tetelbaum

Yale University - Law School

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Date Written: July 2007

Abstract

The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) is widely believed to save lives by reducing traffic fatalities among underage drivers. Further, the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act, which pressured all states to adopt an MLDA of 21, is regarded as having contributed enormously to this life saving effect. This paper challenges both claims. State-level panel data for the past 30 years show that any nationwide impact of the MLDA is driven by states that increased their MLDA prior to any inducement from the federal government. Even in early adopting states, the impact of the MLDA did not persist much past the year of adoption. The MLDA appears to have only a minor impact on teen drinking.

Suggested Citation

Miron, Jeffrey A. and Tetelbaum, Elina, Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives? (July 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13257. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1000359

Jeffrey A. Miron (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Elina Tetelbaum

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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