National Addiction & HIV Data Archive Program

Estimating the Elasticities of Demand for Cocaine and Heroin with Data from 21 Cities from the Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) Program, 1987-1991 (ICPSR 6567)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

The objective of this research was to estimate the elasticity of the demand for cocaine and heroin with respect to the price. Price elasticity is the percentage of change in the dependent quantity corresponding to a one-percent change in price. The project involved the development of an econometric model to determine price elasticity, given that national- and city-level data on the consumption of cocaine and heroin are insufficient or nonexistent. The researchers circumvented this lack of data by partitioning the desired elasticity into the product of two elasticities, involving a measurable intermediate quantity whose relationship to the quantity of consumption could be modeled and estimated by measurable techniques. The intermediate quantity used for this project was the fraction of arrestees testing positive for cocaine or heroin as measured by the Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) System. From the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence (STRIDE) data, expected purity was computed by regressing on log quantity and dummy variables for location and quarter. Price series were produced by finding the median standardized price per expected pure gram for each location and quarter. Variables for Part 1, National Data, include year, quarter, standardized prices for a gram of cocaine and a gram of heroin, and expected purity of cocaine and heroin. The Cities Data, Part 2, cover city, year, quarter, number of observations used to compute the median price of cocaine and heroin, standardized prices, and expected purity.

Series: Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Program/Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) Series

Access Notes

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  National Data - Download All Files (0.1 MB)
DS2:  Cities Data - Download All Files (0.1 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Caulkins, Jonathan P. Estimating the Elasticities of Demand for Cocaine and Heroin with Data from 21 Cities from the Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) Program, 1987-1991. ICPSR06567-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1996. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06567.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (93-IJ-CX-4018)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   ADAM/DUF Program, alcohol abuse, cocaine, consumption, criminal histories, crime patterns, demographic characteristics, drug dependence, drug law offenses, drug offenders, drug related crimes, drug testing, drug traffic, drug use, gun use, handguns, heroin, price fluctuations, recidivism prediction, substance abuse, trends, urinalysis

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1987--1991

Date of Collection:  

  • 1987--1991

Unit of Observation:   For the national data the unit of observation is the year and quarter. For the Cities Data, the unit is the year and quarter within the city.

Universe:   Illicit cocaine and heroin purchases in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data and event/transaction data

Data Collection Notes:

Users are encouraged to obtain a copy of the technical report on this project that describes in detail the model that was developed the relationship between quantity consumed and the fraction of arrestees testing positive. Further information about the DUF program is available in various NIJ publications and can be obtained from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS).

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Over the last decade, illicit drugs have been increasingly recognized as consumer goods. They are produced, distributed, and retailed in markets that are not entirely unlike the markets for licit goods. This research sought to answer questions such as: (1) By how much will consumption change if prices increase? and (2) If the price of one drug goes up, will users switch to another drug? The answers to these questions have significant policy implications. The primary objective of drug enforcement is to reduce consumption and increase price, using interdiction and source country control. However, the final step of translating the projected increase in price into a reduction in consumption is never satisfactory, because the elasticity of demand is not known. Better knowledge of the extent of substitution would also aid policy planning, analysis, and evaluation. Furthermore, interventions designed to affect price could consider how the difference in the higher fraction of disposable income absorbed by drug purchases for women and youth affect demand. Therefore, the objective of this research was to estimate the elasticity of the quantity of cocaine and heroin consumed with respect to the price.

Study Design:   In general, price elasticity is the percentage of change in the dependent quantity corresponding to a one-percent change in price. The focus of this research was the development of an econometric model to determine price elasticity corresponding to the percentage of change in the quantity of cocaine and heroin consumed to the change in the price of cocaine and heroin. The use of the standard econometric model was not feasible, given that national- and city-level data on consumption of cocaine and heroin are insufficient or nonexistent. The researchers adapted the model by partitioning the desired elasticity into the product of two elasticities, involving a measurable intermediate quantity whose relationship to the quantity of consumption could be modeled and estimated by measurable techniques. The intermediate quantity used for this project was the fraction of arrestees testing positive for cocaine or heroin as measured by the Drug Use Forecasting System. From the STRIDE data, cocaine and heroin purchase records were used if (1) they had a positive purity, (2) the amount paid was greater than one dollar, and (3) the total weight was between 0.05 and 40 grams. To partially offset the situations in which cities' records were inadequate to produce reliable quarterly price estimates, data were augmented with records from adjoining cities. Gross outliers were eliminated with a coarse filter based on price per gram, ignoring purity. A second step eliminated observations whose standard price was more than five times farther from the median standardized price for its location and quarter than the median distance. Expected purity was then computed by regressing on log quantity and dummy variables for location and quarter. Price series were produced by finding the median standardized price per expected pure gram of the remaining records for each location and quarter, provided at least five such records existed. If fewer than five records existed, the price was recorded as missing.

Sample:   (1) Arrestees testing positive for cocaine or heroin from 21 cities in the DUF data, (2) all purchases and seizures of cocaine or heroin examined by the DEA laboratories.

Data Source:

DRUG USE FORECASTING IN 24 CITIES IN THE UNITED STATES, 1987-1991 (ICPSR 9477) and the Drug Enforcement Administration's System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence (STRIDE)

Description of Variables:   Variables for Part 1, National Data, include year, quarter, standardized prices for a gram of cocaine and a gram of heroin, and expected purity of cocaine and heroin. The Cities Data, Part 2, cover city, year, quarter, number of observations used to compute the median price of cocaine and heroin, standardized prices, and expected purity.

Response Rates:   Not applicable.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File CB6567.ALL was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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