Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2018:4: Too Young to Die: Regression Discontinuity of a Two-Part Minimum Legal Drinking Age Policy and the Causal Effect of Alcohol on Health

Gawain Heckley (), Ulf-G. Gerdtham () and Johan Jarl ()
Additional contact information
Gawain Heckley: Health Economics Unit, Dept of Clinical Science, Lund University
Ulf-G. Gerdtham: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Johan Jarl: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This study examines the impact of Sweden’s unique two-part Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) policy on alcohol consumption and health using regression discontinuity design. In Sweden on-licence purchasing of alcohol is legalised at 18 and off-licence purchasing is legalised later at 20 years of age. We find an immediate and significant 6% jump in participation and a larger increase in number of days drinking at age 18 of about 16% but no large jumps at age 20. No discernible increases in mortality at age 18 or 20 are found but hospital visits due to external causes do see an increase at both 18 and 20 years. Compared to previous findings for single MLDAs the alcohol impacts we find are smaller and the health impacts less severe. The findings suggest that a two-part MLDA can help young adults in their transition to unrestricted alcohol and help contain the negative health impacts that have been observed elsewhere.

Keywords: Alcohol consumption; regression discontinuity; minimum legal drinking age

JEL-codes: I12; I18

61 pages, March 5, 2018

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