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Restricting access to alcohol and public health: Evidence from electoral dry laws in Brazil

Abstract

We analyze the impact of short-term alcohol bans on road traffic accidents, traffic injuries, and hospital admissions. We focus on the 2012 Municipal Elections in Brazil, during which 11 out of 27 states imposed on its 2,733 municipalities the decision to adopt alcohol bans. Using day-level data on municipalities, we find that alcohol bans caused substantial reductions in road crashes (19%), traffic injuries (43%), and traffic-related hospitalizations (17%). An analysis of traffic-related hospitalization costs allows us to estimate the lower bound of the negative externality associated with excessive alcohol consumption in this context, which reveals that electoral dry laws saved Brazil’s public healthcare system $100,000 per day.

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