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Alcohol and marijuana use among college students: economic complements or substitutes?


  • J. Williams

    (University of Melbourne, Australia)

  • Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

    (The RAND Corporation, National Bureau of Economic Research, USA)

  • Frank J. Chaloupka

    (University of Illinois, Chicago, National Bureau of Economic Research, USA)

  • Henry Wechsler

    (Harvard School of Public Health, USA)


Previous research has shown that the recent tightening of college alcohol policies has been effective at reducing college students' drinking. Over the period in which these stricter alcohol policies have been put in place, marijuana use among college students has increased. This raises the question of whether current policies aimed at reducing alcohol consumption are inadvertently encouraging marijuana use. This paper begins to address this question by investigating the relationship between the demands for alcohol and marijuana for college students using data from the 1993, 1997 and 1999 waves of the Harvard School of Public Health's College Alcohol Study (CAS). We find that alcohol and marijuana are economic complements and that policies that increase the full price of alcohol decrease participation in marijuana use. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:13:y:2004:i:9:p:825-843 DOI: 10.1002/hec.859

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    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1993:83:6:851-855_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Lisa Cameron & Jenny Williams, 1999. "Substitutes or Complements? Alcohol, Cannabis and Tobacco," School of Economics Working Papers 1999-02, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Michael Grossman & Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Saffer & Adit Laixuthai, 1993. "Effects of Alcohol Price Policy on Youth," NBER Working Papers 4385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2001:91:2:225-232_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 1996. "Binge Drinking In College: The Impact Of Price, Availability, And Alcohol Control Policies," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 112-124, October.
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    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General


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