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Keywords:

  • obesity;
  • drunk driving;
  • alcohol consumption

ABSTRACT

We develop a model of alcohol consumption that incorporates the negative biological relationship between body mass and inebriation conditional on total alcohol consumption. Our model predicts that the elasticity of inebriation with respect to weight is equal to the own-price elasticity of alcohol, consistent with body mass increasing the effective price of inebriation. Given that alcohol is generally considered price inelastic, this result implies that as individuals gain weight, they consume more alcohol but become less inebriated. We test this prediction and find that driver blood alcohol content (BAC) is negatively associated with driver weight. In fatal accidents with driver BAC above 0.10, the driver was 7.8 percentage points less likely to be obese than drivers in fatal accidents that did not involve alcohol. This relationship is not explained by driver attributes (age and sex), driver behaviors (speed and seatbelt use), vehicle attributes (weight class, model year, and number of occupants), or accident context (county of accident, time of day, and day of week). Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.