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A structural model of the retail market for illicit drugs

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  • Galenianos, Manolis
  • Gavazza, Alessandro

Abstract

We estimate a model of illicit drugs markets using data on purchases of crack cocaine. Buyers are searching for high-quality drugs, but they determine drugs’ quality (i.e., their purity) only after consuming them. Hence, sellers can rip off first-time buyers or can offer higher-quality drugs to induce buyers to purchase from them again. In equilibrium, a distribution of qualities persists. The estimated model implies that if drugs were legalized, in which case purity could be regulated and hence observable, the average purity of drugs would increase by approximately 20 percent and the dispersion would decrease by approximately 80 percent. Moreover, increasing penalties may raise the purity and affordability of the drugs traded by increasing sellers’ relative profitability of targeting loyal buyers versus first-time buyers

Suggested Citation

  • Galenianos, Manolis & Gavazza, Alessandro, 2017. "A structural model of the retail market for illicit drugs," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 80287, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:80287
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. David Bardey & Denis Gromb & David Martimort & Jérôme Pouyet, 2020. "Controlling Sellers Who Provide Advice: Regulation and Competition," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 409-444, September.
    3. Carrieri, Vincenzo & Madio, Leonardo & Principe, Francesco, 2019. "Light cannabis and organized crime: Evidence from (unintended) liberalization in Italy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 63-76.
    4. Liu, Lu, 2019. "Non-salient fees in the mortgage market," Bank of England working papers 819, Bank of England.
    5. Bhaskar, V. & Linacre, Robin & Machin, Stephen, 2019. "The economic functioning of online drugs markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 426-441.
    6. Nicolas Eschenbaum & Helge Liebert, 2021. "Dealing with Uncertainty: The Value of Reputation in the Absence of Legal Institutions," Papers 2107.11314, arXiv.org.
    7. Manolis Galenianos & Alessandro Gavazza, 2017. "A Structural Model of the Retail Market for Illicit Drugs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(3), pages 858-896, March.
    8. Pinter, Gabor & Uslu, Semih, 2022. "Comparing search and intermediation frictions across markets," Bank of England working papers 974, Bank of England.
    9. Arthur Campbell & C. Matthew Leister & Yves Zenou, 2020. "Word‐of‐mouth communication and search," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 51(3), pages 676-712, September.
    10. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Mesnard, Alice & Perrault, Tiffanie, 2019. "Defeating Crime? An Economic Analysis of Cannabis Legalization Policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 13814, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Gary Biglaiser & Fei Li & Charles Murry & Yiyi Zhou, 2020. "Intermediaries and product quality in used car markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 51(3), pages 905-933, September.
    12. Philip C. Solimine & R. Mark Isaac, 2021. "Reputation and Market Structure in Experimental Platforms," Working Papers wp2021_08_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
    13. Lennon, Conor & Shohfi, Tom, 2021. "Unbridled spirit: Illicit markets for bourbon whiskey," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 191(C), pages 1025-1045.
    14. Galenianos, Manolis & Gavazza, Alessandro, 2019. "Regulatory Interventions in Consumer Financial Markets: The Case of Credit Cards," CEPR Discussion Papers 13807, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Leong, Kaiwen & Li, Huailu & Xu, Haibo, 2018. "Exploiting the Unbanked: Evidence from Singapore's Unlicensed Moneylending Market," IZA Discussion Papers 11786, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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