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Mental Illness and the Demand for Alcohol, Cocaine and Cigarettes

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  • Henry Saffer
  • Dhaval Dave

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Henry Saffer & Dhaval Dave, 2002. "Mental Illness and the Demand for Alcohol, Cocaine and Cigarettes," NBER Working Papers 8699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8699 Note: HE
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    Cited by:

    1. Thorhildur Ólafsdóttir & Birgir Hrafnkelsson & Tinna Ásgeirsdóttir, 2015. "The Icelandic economic collapse, smoking, and the role of labor-market changes," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(4), pages 391-405, May.
    2. Naci Mocan & Kaj Gittings, 2010. "The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make it Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 379-418 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Inas Kelly & Dhaval Dave & Jody Sindelar & William Gallo, 2014. "The impact of early occupational choice on health behaviors," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 737-770, December.
    4. Henry Saffer, 2014. "Self-regulation and Health," NBER Working Papers 20483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ana I. Balsa & Michael T. French, 2011. "The Impact of Parental Drinking on Children’s Use of Health Care," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1101, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
    6. Amnon Levy & João Faria, 2008. "Persistent high ambition and substance abuse: a rationalization of a vicious circle," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 94(3), pages 261-274, September.
    7. Dhaval Dave & Henry Saffer, 2007. "Risk Tolerance and Alcohol Demand Among Adults and Older Adults," NBER Working Papers 13482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Anna Choi & Dhaval Dave & Joseph J. Sabia, 2016. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Medical Marijuana Laws and Tobacco Use," NBER Working Papers 22554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Dave, Dhaval & Saffer, Henry, 2008. "Alcohol demand and risk preference," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 810-831, December.
    10. Padmaja Ayyagari & Partha Deb & Jason Fletcher & William T. Gallo & Jody L. Sindelar, 2009. "Sin Taxes: Do Heterogeneous Responses Undercut Their Value?," NBER Working Papers 15124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Lacruz, Ana Isabel Gil & Lacruz, Marta Gil, 2010. "Does alcohol consumption reinforce mental problems in adolescence?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 223-232, April.
    12. Chatterji, Pinka & Dave, Daval & Kaestner, Robert & Markowitz, Sara, 2004. "Alcohol abuse and suicide attempts among youth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 159-180, June.

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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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