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The Road to Ruin? Sequences of Initiation to Drugs and Crime in Britain


  • Stephen Pudney

    (University of Leicester and Università di Firenze)


This study investigates the routes by which young people develop patterns of drug-using and offending behaviour. Survey data are used to assess the gateway effect — the tendency for soft drug use to lead to subsequent hard drug use and criminal activity. We argue that apparently strong gateway effects can be due to unobservable personal characteristics which produce a spurious association between different forms of problem behaviour. After correcting statistically for these confounding factors, gateway effects appear small. This casts doubt on the view that a more relaxed policy stance on soft drugs will lead to a hard drug epidemic. Copyright Royal Economic Society 2003

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  • Stephen Pudney, 2003. "The Road to Ruin? Sequences of Initiation to Drugs and Crime in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages 182-198, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:113:y:2003:i:486:p:c182-c198

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bretteville-Jensen Anne L & Melberg Hans O & Jones Andrew M, 2008. "Sequential Patterns of Drug Use Initiation - Can We Believe In the Gateway Theory?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(2), pages 1-31, January.
    2. Huber III Arthur & Newman Rebecca & LaFave Daniel, 2016. "Cannabis Control and Crime: Medicinal Use, Depenalization and the War on Drugs," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(4), pages 1-35, October.
    3. Anne Line Bretteville‐Jensen & Liana Jacobi, 2011. "Climbing the drug staircase: a Bayesian analysis of the initiation of hard drug use," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(7), pages 1157-1186, November.
    4. Luca Stella, 2014. "Living Arrangements in Europe: Whether and Why Paternal Retirement Matters," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0177, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    5. Hans Melberg & Andrew Jones & Anne Bretteville-Jensen, 2010. "Is cannabis a gateway to hard drugs?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 583-603, June.
    6. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Sonja C. Kassenboehmer & Trinh Le & Duncan McVicar & Rong Zhang, 2015. "‘High’-School: The Relationship between Early Marijuana Use and Educational Outcomes," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 91(293), pages 247-266, June.
    7. Akçomak, İ. Semih & ter Weel, Bas, 2012. "The impact of social capital on crime: Evidence from the Netherlands," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 323-340.
    8. Luca Stella, 2017. "Living arrangements in Europe: whether and why paternal retirement matters," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 497-525, June.
    9. Jan Ours & Stephen Pudney, 2006. "On the Economics of Illicit Drugs," De Economist, Springer, vol. 154(4), pages 483-490, December.
    10. Rigby, Dan & Burton, Michael & Balcombe, Kelvin & Bateman, Ian & Mulatu, Abay, 2015. "Contract cheating & the market in essays," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 23-37.
    11. Kelly, Elaine & Rasul, Imran, 2014. "Policing cannabis and drug related hospital admissions: Evidence from administrative records," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 89-114.
    12. Kenneth Clements & Yihui Lan & Xueyan Zhao, 2010. "The demand for marijuana, tobacco and alcohol: inter-commodity interactions with uncertainty," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 203-239, August.
    13. Hernandez, Monica & Pudney, Stephen, 2011. "What you don't see can't hurt you? Panel data analysis and the dynamics of unobservable factors," ISER Working Paper Series 2011-13, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    14. Anne Bretteville-Jensen, 2006. "Drug Demand – Initiation, Continuation and Quitting," De Economist, Springer, vol. 154(4), pages 491-516, December.
    15. Pudney, Stephen & Bryan, Mark & DelBono, Emilia, 2013. "Licensing and regulation of the cannabis market in England and Wales: Towards a cost-benefit analysis," MPRA Paper 50365, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Bryan, Mark L. & Del Bono, Emilia & Pudney, Stephen, 2013. "Drug-related crime," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-08, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

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