We provide evidence that graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, originally intended to improve public safety, impact both high school completion and teen employment. Many teens use automobiles to commute both to school and to employment. Because school and work decisions are interrelated, the effects of automobile-specific mobility restrictions are ex ante ambiguous. Combining variation in the timing of both GDL law adoption and changes in compulsory school laws into a triple-difference research design shows that restricting teen mobility significantly reduces high school dropout rates and teen employment. These findings are consistent with a model in which teens use automobiles to access educational distractions (employment or even risky behaviors). We develop a discrete choice model that reflects reduced access to school, work, and other activities, which reveals that limiting access to work alone cannot explain the reduction in high school dropout rates.View the Full Working Paper
Driving, Dropouts, and Drive-Throughs: Mobility Restrictions and Teen Human Capital
WP 22-22 – Teens make important decisions about schooling and employment that impact their life trajectories. Moderate driving restrictions for teens reduce high school dropout rates. This reduction does not represent substitution away from employment.