Driving Under the Influence of Obesity: The External Costs and Benefits of Unhealthy Behaviors

39 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2011

See all articles by Richard A. Dunn

Richard A. Dunn

University of Connecticut - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Nathan Tefft

Bates College

Date Written: November 24, 2011

Abstract

We explore the previously unidentified negative relationship between body mass index and the likelihood of involvement in an alcohol-related accident among all drivers in fatal motor vehicle accidents. This relationship is not explained by differences in driver attributes (e.g. age, gender), driver behaviors (e.g. speed, seat-belt use, etc), vehicle attributes (e.g. weight class, model year, number of occupants), or accident context (e.g county of accident, time of day, day of week, weather). We conclude that the physiological relationship between body mass and impairment produces a positive externality. We then estimate the magnitude of the external benefit of obesity using methods first implemented by Levitt and Porter (2001). Relative to the counterfactual scenario in which all obese Americans were instead non-obese in 2009, our preferred estimates imply that there was 2.8% fewer fatal drunk driving accidents and the total external benefit of obesity was $20.48 per obese driver.

Keywords: Obesity, Drunk Driving, Externalities

JEL Classification: H23, I18, K42

Suggested Citation

Dunn, Richard A. and Tefft, Nathan, Driving Under the Influence of Obesity: The External Costs and Benefits of Unhealthy Behaviors (November 24, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1964366 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1964366

Richard A. Dunn

University of Connecticut - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4066
Storrs, CT 06269
United States
860-486-0111 (Phone)

Nathan Tefft (Contact Author)

Bates College ( email )

Lewiston, ME 04240
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
80
Abstract Views
1,428
rank
353,657
PlumX Metrics