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Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among College Students: Economic Complements or Substitutes?


  • Jenny Williams
  • Rosalie Liccardo Pacula
  • Frank J. Chaloupka
  • Henry Wechsler


College campuses have been cracking down on underage and binge drinking in light of recent highly publicized student deaths. Although there is evidence showing that stricter college alcohol policies have been effective at discouraging both drinking in general and frequent binge drinking on college campuses, recent evidence from the Harvard School Of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS) shows that marijuana use among college students rose 22 percent between 1993 and 1999. Are current policies aimed at reducing alcohol consumption inadvertently encouraging marijuana use? This paper begins to address this question by investigating the relationship between the demands for alcohol and marijuana for college students using data from the 1993, 1997 and 1999 CAS. We find that alcohol and marijuana are economic complements and that policies that increase the full price of alcohol decrease participation in marijuana use.

Suggested Citation

  • Jenny Williams & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula & Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 2001. "Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among College Students: Economic Complements or Substitutes?," NBER Working Papers 8401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8401
    Note: CH HE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frank J. Chaloupka & Adit Laixuthai, 1997. "Do Youths Substitute Alcohol and Marijuana? Some Econometric Evidence," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 253-276, Summer.
    2. Cameron, L. & Williams, J., 1999. "Substitutes or Complements? Alcohol, Cannabis and Tobacco," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 685, The University of Melbourne.
    3. Michael Grossman & Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Saffer & Adit Laixuthai, 1993. "Effects of Alcohol Price Policy on Youth," NBER Working Papers 4385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1993:83:6:851-855_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2001:91:2:225-232_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. John DiNardo & Thomas Lemieux, 1992. "Alcohol, Marijuana, and American Youth: The Unintended Effects of Government Regulation," NBER Working Papers 4212, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Matthew C. Farrelly & Jeremy W. Bray & Gary A. Zarkin & Brett W. Wendling & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, 1999. "The Effects of Prices and Policies on the Demand for Marijuana: Evidence from the National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse," NBER Working Papers 6940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 1996. "Binge Drinking In College: The Impact Of Price, Availability, And Alcohol Control Policies," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 112-124, October.
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    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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