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Marijuana and Youth

In: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis

  • Patrick M. O'Malley
  • Michael Grossman
  • Frank J. Chaloupka

This paper contains the first estimates of the price sensitivity of the prevalence of youth marijuana use. Survey data on marijuana use by high school seniors from the Monitoring the Future Project are combined with data on marijuana prices and potency from the Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Intelligence or Intelligence Division. Our estimates of the price elasticity of annual marijuana participation range from 0.06 to 0.47, while those for thirty day participation range from 0.002 to 0.69. These estimates clearly imply that changes in the real, quality adjusted price of marijuana contributed significantly to the trends in youth marijuana use between 1982 and 1998, particularly during the contraction in use from 1982 to 1992. Similarly, changes in youth perceptions of the harms associated with regular marijuana use had a substantial impact on both the contraction in use during the 1982 though 1992 period and the subsequent expansion in use after 1992. These findings underscore the usefulness of considering price in addition to more traditional determinants in any analysis of marijuana consumption decisions made by youths.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub01-1, October.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10691.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10691
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.orgEmail:


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    1. Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1987. "A Simple, Positive Semi-definite, Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 703-08, May.
    2. Robert MacCoun & Peter Reuter & Thomas Schelling, 1996. "Assessing alternative drug control regimes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(3), pages 330-352.
    3. Frank J. Chaloupka & Michael Grossman & John A. Tauras, 1999. "The Demand for Cocaine and Marijuana by Youth," NBER Chapters, in: The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse: An Integration of Econometrics and Behavioral Economic Research, pages 133-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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 473-75, November.
    5. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
    6. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
    7. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
    8. Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, 1998. "Adolescent Alcohol and Marijuana Consumption: Is There Really a Gateway Effect?," NBER Working Papers 6348, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
    10. 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.
    11. Frank J. Chaloupka & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula & Matthew C. Farrelly & Lloyd D. Johnston & Patrick M. O'Malley, 1999. "Do Higher Cigarette Prices Encourage Youth to Use Marijuana?," NBER Working Papers 6939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Saffer, Henry & Chaloupka, Frank, 1999. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(3), pages 401-11, July.
    13. Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo, 1998. "Does increasing the beer tax reduce marijuana consumption?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 557-585, October.
    14. Grossman, Michael & Chaloupka, Frank J., 1998. "The demand for cocaine by young adults: a rational addiction approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 427-474, August.
    15. 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.
    16. Jeremy W. Bray & Gary A. Zarkin & Chris Ringwalt & Junfeng Qi, 2000. "The relationship between marijuana initiation and dropping out of high school," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(1), pages 9-18.
    17. Tetsuji Yamada & Michael Kendix & Tadashi Yamada, 1993. "The Impact of Alcohol Consumption and Marijuana Use on High School Graduation," NBER Working Papers 4497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Jeffrey DeSimone, 1998. "Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 149-164, Spring.
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