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Mental Illness and the Demand for Alcohol, Cocaine and Cigarettes

  • Henry Saffer
  • Dhaval Dave

The purpose of this paper is to estimate the effect that mental illness has on the demand for addictive goods. Mental illness could affect the level of consumption of addictive goods and could affect the price elasticities of addictive goods. Demand theory suggests that mental illness would affect consumption if mental illness affected marginal utility. In addition, mental illness would affect the price elasticity if mental illness affected the rate at which marginal utility diminishes. The empirical models allow for endogeneity between mental illness and addictive consumption since prior research suggests such a relationship. The results show that individuals with a history of mental illness are 25 percent more likely to consume alcohol, 69 percent more likely to consume cocaine and 94 percent more likely to consume cigarettes. Individuals with a history of mental illness are responsive to price although the price elasticites differ somewhat from whose without mental illness. These results provide an added justification for higher taxes and other supply reduction activities since they show that these policies are effective with this high participation group. The results also suggest that an additional method of reducing the consumption of addictive goods is to subsidize the treatment of mental illness.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8699.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8699.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Publication status: published as Henry Saffer & Dhaval Dave, 2005. "Mental Illness and the Demand for Alcohol, Cocaine, and Cigarettes," Economic Inquiry, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 229-246, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8699
Note: HE
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  1. Joshua Angrist, 1999. "Estimation of Limited-Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice," Working papers 99-31, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Michael Grossman & Frank J. Chaloupka & Charles C. Brown, 1996. "The Demand for Cocaine by Young Adults: A Rational Addiction Approach," NBER Working Papers 5713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119.
  4. Kenkel, Donald S, 1996. "New Estimates of the Optimal Tax on Alcohol," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(2), pages 296-319, April.
  5. Manning, Willard G. & Blumberg, Linda & Moulton, Lawrence H., 1995. "The demand for alcohol: The differential response to price," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 123-148, June.
  6. James J. Heckman & Thomas E. MaCurdy, 1985. "A Simultaneous Equations Linear Probability Model," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(1), pages 28-37, February.
  7. Gary S. Becker & Michael Grossman & Kevin M. Murphy, 1990. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 61, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  8. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, October.
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