College Students' Use of Cocaine

Published in: Substance Use and Misuse, v. 41, no. 4, 2006, p. 489-509

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Jenny Williams, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Frank J. Chaloupka, Henry Wechsler

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After experiencing a period of rapid decline between 1986 and 1994, cocaine use is once again on the rise in the United States. The increased prevalence of use among college students is particularly troubling because of its potential impact on human capital acquisition and long-term labor market success. Merging information on the price of cocaine and marijuana from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency with data on cocaine use from the College Alcohol Study, the authors investigate the demand for cocaine in the college population. The authors find evidence that participation in cocaine use by college students is responsive to changes in the price of cocaine and marijuana and that cocaine and marijuana are economic complements for this population. Further investigation revealed significant differences in the demand for cocaine by those less than age 21 and those at least age 21, years, with the younger age group being more responsive to changes in the price of cocaine. No difference is found, however, in the demand for cocaine across gender.

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