Working Papers

Minimum Legal Drinking Age and the Social Gradient in Binge Drinking

with Stefan Bauernschuster, Martin Halla, and Hannah Lachenmaier


Abstract Low minimum legal drinking ages (MLDAs), as prevalent in many European countries, are severely understudied. We use rich survey and administrative data to estimate the impact of the Austrian MLDA of 16 on teenage drinking behavior and morbidity. Regression discontinuity estimates show that legal access to alcohol increases the frequency and intensity of drinking, which results in more hospital admissions due to alcohol intoxication. The effects are stronger for boys and teenagers with low socioeconomic background. The policy's impact is not driven by access. Data from an annual large-scale field study shows that about 25 percent of all retailers sell even hard liquor to underage customers. In line with this, perceived access to alcohol is very high and hardly changes at the MLDA. However, teenagers consider binge drinking at weekends to be less harmful after gaining legal access.

R&R at Journal of Health Economics | [latest version]

The health externalities of downsizing

with Dominik Grübl and Rudolf Winter-Ebmer


Abstract We show that downsizing has substantial externalities on the health of workers who remain in the firm. To this end, we study mass layoff (ML) survivors in Austria, using workers who survive a ML themselves, but a few years in the future, as a control group. Based on high-quality administrative data, we find evidence that downsizing has persistent effects on mental and physical health, and that these effects can be explained by workers fearing for their own jobs. We also show that health externalities due to downsizing imply non-negligible cost for firms, and that wage cuts may have similar effects.

[latest version]

The Blessing of Leisure or the Curse of Unemployment? Effects of Unemployment Insurance Duration on Health

with Analisa Packham


Abstract Using administrative data for Upper Austrian workers from 2003–2013, we show that an extension in unemployment insurance (UI) duration increases unemployment length and impacts worker physical and mental health. These effects vary by gender. Specifically, we find that female workers eligible for an additional 9 weeks of UI benefits fill fewer opioid and antidepressant prescriptions and experience a lower likelihood of filing a disability claim, as compared to non-eligible unemployed female workers. We posit that these effects are driven by female workers matching to higher-paying and less physically demanding jobs. Moreover, estimates indicate beneficial within-household spillovers for young children. For male workers, we find that extending UI benefit duration increases the likelihood of a cardiac event and eventual disability retirement filing, potentially due to increased stress and/or smoking behavior.

[latest version], [NBER working paper]

Mass Gatherings Contributed to Early COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from US Sports

with Martin Halla and Mario Lackner


Abstract Social distancing is important to slow the community spread of infectious disease, but it creates enormous economic and social cost. Thus, it is important to quantify the benefits of different measures. We study the ban of mass gatherings, an intervention with comparably low cost. We exploit exogenous spatial and temporal variation in NBA and NHL games — which arise due to the leagues' predetermined schedules— and the suspension of the 2019-20 seasons. This allows us to estimate the impact of indoor mass gatherings on COVID-19 mortality in affected US counties. One additional mass gathering increased the cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths in affected counties by 9 percent.

[paper]

The intergenerational transmission of opioid dependence: Evidence from administrative data

with Martin Halla


Abstract To address the opioid crisis, it is crucial to understand its origins. We provide evidence for the intergenerational transmission of opioid dependence. Our analysis is based on administrative data covering the universe of Austrian births from 1984 to 1990. We consider prescription opioids and have a close proxy for addiction to illicit opioids. We find that, if at least one parent is using illicit opioids, the likelihood of the child using increases from 1.1 to 6.1%. For prescription opioids, we observe an increase from 4.6 to 7.7%. Both associations are stable and do not change when controlling for environmental variables.

[paper]

In preparation

Strict patient monitoring and prescription drug abuse

Downsizing, trust, and worker morale (with Matthias Fahn, Dominik Grübl, and Rudolf Winter-Ebmer)

Currently resting

Do Financial Incentives Alter Physician Prescription Behavior? — Evidence from Random Patient-GP Allocations (with Ivan Zilic), [paper]

Poverty in Times of Crisis (with Stefan Kranzinger), [paper]