Did the Federal Drinking Age Law Save Lives?
6 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2009
Date Written: Spring 2009
In 1984, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act, mandating that all states adopt a minimum legal drinking age of 21 or else they would forfeit some of their federal transportation money. Simple statistical research into the effects of the federal law appears to indicate that it helped to reduce motor vehicle fatalities. However, those studies failed to consider important dynamics on the state level that were occurring around the time of the adoption of the federal law. Our analysis does so, and when those trends are controlled for, we find no evidence that the federal law has saved lives.
Keywords: coercive federalism, MLDA, MLDA 21, minimum legal drinking age, NHTSA, drunk driving, alcohol related fatalities
JEL Classification: D6, H7, I39, K32, R4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation