Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?

20 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2009

See all articles by Jeffrey A. Miron

Jeffrey A. Miron

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

Elina Tetelbaum

Yale University - Law School

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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 article challenges both claims. State-level panel data for the past 30 yr 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. (JEL H11, K42)

Suggested Citation

Miron, Jeffrey A. and Tetelbaum, Elina, Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?. Economic Inquiry, Vol. 47, Issue 2, pp. 317-336, April 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1393936 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2008.00179.x

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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