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Arrest Avoidance: Law Enforcement and Price of Cocaine


  • Beth A. Freeborn

    () (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)


Contrary to one goal of drug law enforcement, cocaine prices decreased between the years 1986 and 2000. This paper discusses how arrest avoidance behavior can affect cocaine consumer and dealer response to law enforcement. Dealers may avoid arrest by incurring quick and easy sales; thus pure gram price is negatively related to dealer enforcement. Consumers avoid arrest by accepting high prices rather than search for lower prices. Thus pure gram price is increasing in consumer enforcement. Because the implications from arrest avoidance conflict with traditional models of how enforcement should affect prices, I study the relationship using empirical analysis. Using purchase level data from the Drug Enforcement Administration and legal penalty data, I find a negative and significant relationship between dealer enforcement and pure gram price, which is consistent with the intuition of arrest avoidance.

Suggested Citation

  • Beth A. Freeborn, 2006. "Arrest Avoidance: Law Enforcement and Price of Cocaine," Working Papers 30, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:30

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Moshe Buchinsky, 1998. "Recent Advances in Quantile Regression Models: A Practical Guideline for Empirical Research," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 88-126.
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    More about this item


    Drug law enforcement; Incarceration; Drug prices; Arrest Rates;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior

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