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The Effectiveness of Workplace Drug Prevention Policies: Does 'Zero Tolerance' Work?

  • Stephen L. Mehay
  • Rosalie Liccardo Pacula
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    Workplace drug testing programs are becoming increasingly more common although there is little research demonstrating that they have any effect on drug use by employees. This paper analyzes the deterrence effect of a particularly aggressive workplace drug- testing policy implemented by the military in 1981. The military's policy incorporates random drug testing of current employees and zero tolerance. Using data from various years of the Department of Defense's Worldwide Survey of Health Related Behaviors and the NHSDA, we find illicit drug prevalence rates among military personnel are significantly lower than civilian rates in years after the implementation of the program but not before, suggesting a sizeable deterrence effect. These basic findings are replicated with data from the NLSY. The NLSY are also used to explore sensitivity of the deterrence effect to the probability of detection and severity of punishment, which varied across military branches during the first few years of the program's implementation.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7383.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7383.

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    Date of creation: Oct 1999
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7383
    Note: CH HE
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Henry Saffer & Frank J. Chaloupka, 1999. "Demographic Differentials in the Demand for Alcohol and Illicit Drugs," NBER Chapters, in: The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse: An Integration of Econometrics and Behavioral Economic Research, pages 187-212 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Saffer, Henry & Chaloupka, Frank, 1999. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(3), pages 401-11, July.
    3. Frank J. Chaloupka & Adit Laixuthai, 1994. "Do Youths Substitute Alcohol and Marijuana? Some Econometric Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4662, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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.
    5. Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo, 1998. "Does increasing the beer tax reduce marijuana consumption?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 557-585, October.
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