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The social cost of illegal drug consumption in Spain: identifying and quantifying its elements


  • Berta Rivera
  • Bruno Casal
  • Luis Currais


Social and health problems arise when illegal drugs are used or abused, at great cost to individuals and society as a whole. The main objective of this work is to estimate the economic impact of illegal drug consumption in Spain from a social perspective. We conducted a cost-of-illness methodology for the year 2012. Direct costs are distinguished from indirect and intangible ones. The Human Capital approach is taken to carry out an economic assessment of productivity losses due to morbidity and premature death. The total social cost related to drug consumption was somewhere between 962 and 1,172 million euros. The minimum cost of this consumption represented 0.09% of Spain’s GDP for that year. The minimum value for health care costs related to illegal drugs, accounted for 1.1% of spending in the Spanish National Health System. A great economic burden is placed on society when illegal drugs are consumed. In this way, drug prevention and treatment programs can be assessed and health policies will be better informed.

Suggested Citation

  • Berta Rivera & Bruno Casal & Luis Currais, 2015. "The social cost of illegal drug consumption in Spain: identifying and quantifying its elements," Working Papers. Collection B: Regional and sectoral economics 1503, Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:gov:wpregi:1503

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1.
    2. Koopmanschap, Marc A. & Rutten, Frans F. H. & van Ineveld, B. Martin & van Roijen, Leona, 1995. "The friction cost method for measuring indirect costs of disease," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 171-189, June.
    3. Xiaodi Xie & Jürgen Rehrn & Eric Single & Lynda Robson & Josh Paul, 1998. "The economic costs of illicit drug use in Ontario, 1992," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(1), pages 81-85.
    4. Johannesson, Magnus & Karlsson, Goran, 1997. "The friction cost method: A comment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 249-255, April.
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    More about this item


    illegal drugs; cost-of-illness studies; human capital; addiction.;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare

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