Economics Uncut

Economics Uncut

A Complete Guide to Life, Death and Misadventure

Edited by Simon W. Bowmaker

This highly innovative and intriguing book applies principles of microeconomics to unusual settings to inspire students, teachers and scholars alike in the ‘dismal science’. Leading experts show how economics reaches into the strangest of places and throws light onto the occasionally dark side of human nature.

Chapter 2: Economics of drug prohibition

Jeffrey A. Miron

Subjects: economics and finance, cultural economics, methodology of economics


Jeffrey A. Miron According to conventional wisdom, illicit drugs are responsible for a broad range of social and personal ills, including crime, diminished health and reduced productivity. Popular thinking attributes these ills mainly to the characteristics of drugs themselves. For example, standard accounts suggest that psychopharmacological effects of drugs make users commit violent and other crimes. Similarly, standard depictions suggest that mind-altering and addictive properties of drugs cause users to suffer poor health or diminished productivity. This chapter explains that the social and personal ills typically associated with illicit drugs have little to do with drugs themselves; instead, they result from the economic incentives created by drug prohibition. This does not mean drug use is benign; drug use carries significant risks in some situations, but the magnitude of these risks is not markedly different from that of many legal goods. Sections 1 and 2 of the chapter analyse the effect of prohibition on the price and quantity of drugs consumed. The standard defence of prohibition assumes this policy eliminates or substantially reduces the market for drugs; in this case, prohibition eliminates or substantially reduces any negative effects of drug use. The analysis here, however, shows that while price and quantity plausibly differ between a legal market and a prohibited market, both a priori reasoning and existing evidence suggest this difference is far smaller than assumed in most accounts. Thus, even if drug use itself causes the ills typically associated with drugs,...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information