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DOES SOCIAL CAPITAL PROMOTE SAFETY ON THE ROADS?

Authors

  • MATTHEW G. NAGLER

    1. Nagler: Associate Professor, Department of Economics, The City College of New York, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031. Phone 1-212-650-6205, Fax 1-212-650-6341, E-mail mnagler@ccny.cuny.edu
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    • I thank William Dickens, John Helliwell, Robert Putnam, Thomas Sander, and an anonymous referee for very helpful comments. Special thanks go to DDB Worldwide for making their Life Style data available for my use in this study, and to Allan Frei for his help in accessing data on snow depth. Paul Durso and Yuewei Wu provided excellent research assistance.


Abstract

I present evidence that social capital reduces traffic accidents and related death and injury, using data from a 10-year panel of 48 U.S. states. The econometric challenge is to distinguish the causal effects of social capital from bias resulting from its correlation with unobservable characteristics by state that influence road risks. I accomplish this by employing snow depth as an instrument, and by restricting attention to summertime accidents. My results show that social capital has a statistically significant and sizable negative effect on crashes, traffic fatalities, serious traffic injuries, and pedestrian fatalities that holds up across a range of specifications. (JEL R41, I18, Z13)

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