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A Structural Model of the Retail Market for Illicit Drugs

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  • Manolis Galenianos
  • Alessandro Gavazza

Abstract

We estimate a model of illicit drugs markets using data on purchases of crack cocaine. Buyers are searching for high-quality drugs, but they determine drugs' quality (i.e., their purity) only after consuming them. Hence, sellers can rip off first-time buyers or can offer higher-quality drugs to induce buyers to purchase from them again. In equilibrium, a distribution of qualities persists. The estimated model implies that if drugs were legalized, in which case purity could be regulated and hence observable, the average purity of drugs would increase by approximately 20 percent and the dispersion would decrease by approximately 80 percent. Moreover, increasing penalties may raise the purity and affordability of the drugs traded by increasing sellers' relative profitability of targeting loyal buyers versus first-time buyers.

Suggested Citation

  • Manolis Galenianos & Alessandro Gavazza, 2017. "A Structural Model of the Retail Market for Illicit Drugs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(3), pages 858-896, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:3:p:858-96
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20150540
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jeborg:v:159:y:2019:i:c:p:426-441 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Manolis Galenianos & Alessandro Gavazza, 2017. "A Structural Model of the Retail Market for Illicit Drugs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(3), pages 858-896, March.
    3. Galenianos, Manolis & Gavazza, Alessandro, 2019. "Regulatory Interventions in Consumer Financial Markets: The Case of Credit Cards," CEPR Discussion Papers 13807, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Leong, Kaiwen & Li, Huailu & Xu, Haibo, 2019. "Effect of Enforcement Shock on Pushers' Activities: Evidence from an Asian Drug-Selling Gang," IZA Discussion Papers 12083, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Bhaskar, V. & Linacre, Robin & Machin, Stephen, 2019. "The economic functioning of online drugs markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 426-441.
    6. Leong, Kaiwen & Li, Huailu & Xu, Haibo, 2018. "Exploiting the Unbanked: Evidence from Singapore's Unlicensed Moneylending Market," IZA Discussion Papers 11786, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Gary Biglaiser & Fei Li & Charles Murry & Yiyi Zhou, 2018. "Intermediaries and Product Quality in Used Car Markets," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 969, Boston College Department of Economics.
    8. repec:eee:eecrev:v:113:y:2019:i:c:p:63-76 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Carrieri, Vincenzo & Madio, Leonardo & Principe, Francesco, 2019. "Light cannabis and organized crime: Evidence from (unintended) liberalization in Italy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 63-76.
    10. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Mesnard, Alice & Perrault, Tiffanie, 2019. "Defeating Crime? An Economic Analysis of Cannabis Legalization Policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 13814, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Campbell, Arthur & Leister, Matthew & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "Word of Mouth Communication and Search," CEPR Discussion Papers 12326, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics

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