Optimal Dynamic Allocation of Treatment and Enforcement in Illicit Drug Control
There has been considerable debate about what share of drug control resources should be allocated to treatment vs. enforcement. Most of the debate has presumed that there is one answer to that question, but it seems plausible that the mix of interventions should vary as the size of the problem changes. We formulate the choice between treatment and enforcement as an optimal control problem and reach the following conclusions. If initiation into drug use is an increasing function of the current number of users and control begins early, then it is optimal to use very large amounts of both enforcement and treatment to cut short the epidemic. Otherwise the optimal policy is not to stop the growth of the epidemic, but rather to moderate it. Initially this should be done primarily with enforcement. Over time, enforcement spending should increase, but not nearly so fast as treatment spending. Hence, treatment should receive a larger share of control resources when a drug problem is mature than when it is first growing. If initiation rates subsequently decline, enforcement's budget share should drop further in the ensuing declining stage of the epidemic.
Volume (Year): 49 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
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