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The effect of alcohol availability on marijuana use: Evidence from the minimum legal drinking age

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  • Crost, Benjamin
  • Guerrero, Santiago

Abstract

This paper exploits the discontinuity created by the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years to estimate the causal effect of increased alcohol availability on marijuana use. We find that consumption of marijuana decreases sharply at age 21, while consumption of alcohol increases, suggesting that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes. We further find that the substitution effect between alcohol and marijuana is stronger for women than for men. Our results suggest that policies designed to limit alcohol use have the unintended consequence of increasing marijuana use.

Suggested Citation

  • Crost, Benjamin & Guerrero, Santiago, 2012. "The effect of alcohol availability on marijuana use: Evidence from the minimum legal drinking age," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 112-121.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:1:p:112-121
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.12.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. DiNardo, John & Lemieux, Thomas, 2001. "Alcohol, marijuana, and American youth: the unintended consequences of government regulation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 991-1010, November.
    2. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    3. Frank J. Chaloupka & Adit Laixuthai, 1997. "Do Youths Substitute Alcohol and Marijuana? Some Econometric Evidence," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 253-276, Summer.
    4. J. Williams & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula & Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 2004. "Alcohol and marijuana use among college students: economic complements or substitutes?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 825-843.
    5. Henry Saffer & Frank J. Chaloupka, 1999. "Demographic Differentials in the Demand for Alcohol and Illicit Drugs," NBER Chapters,in: The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse: An Integration of Econometrics and Behavioral Economic Research, pages 187-212 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Matthew C. Farrelly & Jeremy W. Bray & Gary A. Zarkin & Brett W. Wendling & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, 1999. "The Effects of Prices and Policies on the Demand for Marijuana: Evidence from the National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse," NBER Working Papers 6940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Christopher Carpenter & Carlos Dobkin, 2009. "The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Mortality: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the Minimum Drinking Age," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 164-182, January.
    8. Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo, 1998. "Does increasing the beer tax reduce marijuana consumption?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 557-585, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Alcohol; Marijuana; Drug use; Minimum legal drinking age; Regression discontinuity;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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