New Evidence on the Causal Impact of Traffic Safety Laws on Drunk Driving and Traffic Fatalities

December 17, 2017

In the United States, about 28 lives are lost daily in motor vehicle accidents that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. The conventional wisdom is that these accidents can be prevented through the use of strict traffic laws that are robustly enforced, though no consensus exists on the causal impact of these laws in reducing motor vehicle-related fatalities. This paper exploits quasi-random variation in state-level driving and road safety restrictions to estimate the causal effect of select traffic laws on the number of fatal accidents and fatal accidents involving a drunk driver. In this paper, we employ the contiguous-border county-pair approach. This is causally identified from the discontinuities in policy treatments among homogeneous contiguous counties that are separated by a shared state border. This approach addresses the econometric issues created due to spatial heterogeneity that may have biased several studies in the literature. The analysis reveals that the laws related to accident prevention, such as having a good graduated licensing system, Pigovian beer taxes, and primary seatbelt enforcement, are the most effective in reducing motor vehicle-related fatalities. Using these estimated coefficients, simple simulations suggest that policymakers have been utilizing existing traffic laws sub-optimally, saving only 17% of the lives lost to motor vehicle crashes.

via New Evidence on the Causal Impact of Traffic Safety Laws on Drunk Driving and Traffic Fatalities by Nicholas Wright, La-Troy Lee :: SSRN


Does Marriage Make Us Healthier? Evidence from Middle-Aged and Older Japanese

December 17, 2017

This study investigated health premium of marriage among middle-aged and older Japanese. Using a unique longitudinal micro dataset for Japanese aged 45–80 years in 2007, we applied a dynamic panel data model and utilized both subjective and objective health indicators for 4,386 observations from 2008 to 2012. We found significant marriage–health premium among middle-aged Japanese, while the evidence for older Japanese was inconclusive. This is the first study addressing the endogeneity between marriage and health to confirm the protective effect of marriage on health for middle-aged and older people in Japan, which sounds an alarm for Japanese health policies facing the late marriage and rising divorce rates owing to the receding economy and shifting social norms.

via Does Marriage Make Us Healthier? Evidence from Middle-Aged and Older Japanese by Rong FU, Haruko Noguchi :: SSRN


No, More Running Probably Isn’t Bad for You – NYTimes.com

February 6, 2015

Don’t run less hard. Don’t run less often. Don’t run less distance. And don’t be persuaded by underpowered medical studies — a habit that really could harm your health.

I say this in response to a recent study suggesting that too much strenuous jogging shortens your life. The conclusions, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, have received wide attention this week.

In fact, the main thing the study shows is that small samples yield unreliable estimates that cannot be reliably discerned from the effects of chance. And the main thing the reaction shows is that perhaps we are all a bit too quick to believe medical studies that tell us what we want to hear.

via No, More Running Probably Isn’t Bad for You – NYTimes.com.


Sitting Too Much May Be More Deadly Than Obesity, Study Finds

January 15, 2015

It turned out that lack of physical activity was linked to the greatest risk of death – and the greatest reduction in death risk was in the difference between the lowest two activity groups. In other words, just moving from “inactive” to “moderately inactive” showed the largest reduction in death risk, especially for normal weight people, but true for people of all body weights. And, the authors say, just taking a brisk 20-minute walk per day can move you from one category to the other, and reduce the risk of death anywhere from 16% to 30%.

Using a statistical model, the team also calculated that being sedentary may account for double the death risk of obesity. According to their math, of the 9.2 million deaths in Europe in 2008, about 337,000 were attributable to obesity, whereas 676,000 were attributable to sedentariness.

via Sitting Too Much May Be More Deadly Than Obesity, Study Finds.


Access to Guns Increases Risk of Suicide, Homicide | ucsf.edu

January 22, 2014

Someone with access to firearms is three times more likely to commit suicide and nearly twice as likely to be the victim of a homicide as someone who does not have access, according to a comprehensive review of the scientific literature conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco.The meta-analysis, published online Jan. 20, 2013, in Annals of Internal Medicine, pools results from 15 investigations, slightly more than half of which were done after a 1996 federal law prohibited the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from funding research that could be seen as promoting gun control. The review excluded studies that relied on survey data to estimate gun ownership and focused instead on studies that included more specific information about whether victims had access to guns.

via Access to Guns Increases Risk of Suicide, Homicide | ucsf.edu.


Mortality Beliefs Distorted: Magnifying the Risk of Dying Young by Peter Jarnebrant, Kristian Myrseth :: SSRN

March 11, 2013

We explore mortality beliefs by eliciting individual-level belief distributions for participants’ remaining lifespan. Across two independent samples, from Germany and the USA, we find that individuals — while accurately forecasting their life expectancy — substantially overestimate the likelihood of dying young (100 years). In other words, the modes of the belief distributions are relatively accurate, but the tails of the belief distributions are significantly ‘fatter’ than the corresponding tails of distributions obtained from demographic data. Our results are robust to variations in belief elicitation techniques, and to assumptions underlying normative longevity forecasts. The results have implications for a range of questions of economic behavior — including intertemporal choice, consumption smoothing, saving, and risk management.

via Mortality Beliefs Distorted: Magnifying the Risk of Dying Young by Peter Jarnebrant, Kristian Myrseth :: SSRN.


Fasten Your Seatbelts: Google’s Driverless Car Is Worth Trillions – Forbes

January 25, 2013

Google is claiming its car could save almost 30,000 lives each year on U.S. highways and prevent nearly 2 million additional injuries. Google claims it can reduce accident-related expenses by at least $400 billion a year in the U.S. Even if Google is way off—and I don’t believe it is—the improvement in safety will be startling.

via Fasten Your Seatbelts: Google’s Driverless Car Is Worth Trillions – Forbes.