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The Opium Wars, Opium Legalization, and Opium Consumption in China


  • Chris Feige
  • Jeffrey A. Miron


The effect of drug prohibition on drug consumption is a critical issue in debates over drug policy. One episode that provides information on the consumption-reducing effect of drug prohibition is the Chinese legalization of opium in 1858. In this paper we examine the impact of China's opium legalization on the quantity and price of British opium exports from India to China during the 19th century. We find little evidence that legalization increased exports or decreased price. Thus, the evidence suggests China's opium prohibition had a minimal impact on opium consumpton.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Feige & Jeffrey A. Miron, 2005. "The Opium Wars, Opium Legalization, and Opium Consumption in China," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2072, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2072

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
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    Cited by:

    1. Irigoin, Alejandra, 2013. "A 'Trojan Horse' in Daoguang China?: Explaining the flows of silver (and opium) in and out of China," MPRA Paper 43987, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    JEL classification:

    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation


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