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The Demand for Illicit Drugs


  • Saffer, Henry
  • Chaloupka, Frank


This paper estimates the effects of alcohol prices, marijuana decriminalization, cocaine prices, and heroin prices on the demand for these four substances. Both own price effects and cross price effects are estimated. The estimated price elasticities for alcohol, cocaine, and heroin are, respectively, -.30, -.28 and -.94. Marijuana decriminalization was found to increase the probability of marijuana participation by about 8%. The results for the cross price effects provide general evidence of complementarity. It is estimated that decriminalization of cocaine and heroin might lead to about 260,000 new regular cocaine users and about 47,000 new regular heroin users. Copyright 1999 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Saffer, Henry & Chaloupka, Frank, 1999. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(3), pages 401-411, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:37:y:1999:i:3:p:401-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Manning, W. G. & Duan, N. & Rogers, W. H., 1987. "Monte Carlo evidence on the choice between sample selection and two-part models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 59-82, May.
    2. John DiNardo & Thomas Lemieux, 1992. "Alcohol, Marijuana, and American Youth: The Unintended Effects of Government Regulation," NBER Working Papers 4212, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-844, September.
    4. Sickles, Robin & Taubman, Paul, 1991. "Who Uses Illegal Drugs?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 248-251, May.
    5. Silverman, Lester P. & Spruill, Nancy L., 1977. "Urban crime and the price of heroin," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 80-103, January.
    6. Nisbet, Charles T & Vakil, Firouz, 1972. "Some Estimates of Price and Expenditure Elasticities of Demand for Marijuana Among U.C.L.A. Students," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(4), pages 473-475, November.
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