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Climbing the Drug Staircase: A Bayesian Analysis of the Initiation of Hard Drug Use

Author

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  • Bretteville-Jensen, Anne Line

    (Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (SIRUS))

  • Jacobi, Liana

    (University of Melbourne)

Abstract

Empirical studies have found that cannabis commonly precedes consumption of drugs like amphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. As a result a causal linkage between cannabis and subsequent hard drug use has been hypothesized. Despite mixed empirical evidence and a limited understanding of possible transmission mechanisms, the causal gateway hypothesis has been influential in formulating a strict drug policy in many western countries. Individual differences in proneness and accessibility, however, provide alternative, non-causal explanations for the observed "staircase" pattern and yield potentially different policy implications. We propose a Bayesian estimation and predictive framework to analyze the effects and relative importance of previous cannabis use, proneness and accessibility factors on hard drug initiation and to explore potential policy implications, using data from a unique recent survey of young adults in Norway. Motivated by the gateway transmission channels proposed in the literature, our model allows for a constant and a heterogeneous effect of previous cannabis use on hard drug initiation and, also, a more flexible correlation pattern for the unobservables. We find that proneness, accessibility and previous cannabis use contribute to the observed higher drug use pattern among cannabis users. The latter has the largest effect and is driven by various transmission channels.

Suggested Citation

  • Bretteville-Jensen, Anne Line & Jacobi, Liana, 2008. "Climbing the Drug Staircase: A Bayesian Analysis of the Initiation of Hard Drug Use," IZA Discussion Papers 3879, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3879
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. van Ours, Jan C., 2003. "Is cannabis a stepping-stone for cocaine?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 539-554, July.
    2. Beenstock, Michael & Rahav, Giora, 2002. "Testing Gateway Theory: do cigarette prices affect illicit drug use?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 679-698, July.
    3. van Ours, Jan C. & Williams, Jenny, 2007. "Cannabis prices and dynamics of cannabis use," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 578-596, May.
    4. Hans Melberg & Andrew Jones & Anne Bretteville-Jensen, 2010. "Is cannabis a gateway to hard drugs?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 583-603, June.
    5. Chib, Siddhartha & Jacobi, Liana, 2007. "Modeling and calculating the effect of treatment at baseline from panel outcomes," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 781-801, October.
    6. Bretteville-Jensen Anne L & Melberg Hans O & Jones Andrew M, 2008. "Sequential Patterns of Drug Use Initiation - Can We Believe In the Gateway Theory?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(2), pages 1-31, January.
    7. Stephen Pudney, 2003. "The Road to Ruin? Sequences of Initiation to Drugs and Crime in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages 182-198, March.
    8. Chib, Siddhartha, 2007. "Analysis of treatment response data without the joint distribution of potential outcomes," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 401-412, October.
    9. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
    10. Anne Line Bretteville-Jensen & Erik Biørn, 2004. "Do prices count? A micro-econometric study of illicit drug consumption based on self-reported data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 673-695, September.
    11. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Spencer D. Li & Xiaohua Zhang & Wei Tang & Yiwei Xia, 2017. "Predictors and Implications of Synthetic Drug Use Among Adolescents in the Gambling Capital of China," SAGE Open, , vol. 7(4), pages 21582440177, October.
    2. 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.
    3. Waddell, Glen R., 2010. "Adolescent Drug Use and the Deterrent Effect of School-Imposed Penalties," IZA Discussion Papers 5047, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. DeAngelo, Gregory & Redford, Audrey, 2015. "Is Medical Marijuana a Gateway Drug?: The Effect of Medical Marijuana Legalization on Heroin Use Rates," 2016 Annual Meeting, February 6-9, 2016, San Antonio, Texas 229981, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    5. Waddell, G.R., 2012. "Adolescent drug use and the deterrent effect of school-imposed penalties," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 961-969.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    accessibility; Bayesian prior-posterior analysis; Bayesian predictive analysis; cannabis gateway; cannabis use; hard drug use; Markov Chain Monte Carlo; policy; proneness;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other

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