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The Effect of Alcohol Access on Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Evidence From the Minimum Legal Drinking Age

Vijetha Koppa
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Vijetha Koppa: Department of Economics and Finance, Stephen F. Austin State University. The findings of this paper reflect the views of the author alone and not of any other organization koppav@sfasu.edu Author email: koppav@sfasu.edu

American Journal of Health Economics, 2018, vol. 4, issue 2, 164-184

Abstract: This paper evaluates the effect of alcohol use on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by exploiting the discrete change in legal access to alcohol at the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years. With administrative data from California, I implement a regression discontinuity model to compare the number of gonorrhea cases in men—an infection with a short incubation period of two weeks or less—contracted just before and after the 21st birthday. Results show no evidence of an increase in STDs in the overall population, or within racial and county subgroups with the highest infection rates. These results suggest that the relationship between alcohol and STDs, which is conventionally believed to be causal, is more likely to be driven by unobserved heterogeneity, at least among the college-age population.

Keywords: alcohol; minimum legal drinking age; sexually transmitted diseases (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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