Abstract

We provide the first evaluation of the effect of the U.S. minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) on nonfatal injuries. Using administrative records from several states and a regression discontinuity approach, we document that inpatient hospital admissions and emergency department (ED) visits increase by 8.4 and 71.3 per 10,000 person-years, respectively, at age 21. These effects are due mainly to an increase in the rate at which young men experience accidental injuries, alcohol overdoses, and injuries inflicted by others. Our results suggest that the literature’s disproportionate focus on mortality leads to a significant underestimation of the benefits of tighter alcohol control.

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