Measuring Crack Cocaine and its Impact

31 Pages Posted: 7 May 2013

See all articles by Roland G. Fryer

Roland G. Fryer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; University of Chicago

Paul S. Heaton

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation

Kevin M. Murphy

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: July 2013

Abstract

Numerous social indicators turned negative for Blacks in the 1980s and rebounded a decade later. We explore whether crack cocaine explains these patterns. Absent a direct measure, we construct a crack prevalence index using multiple proxies. Our index reproduces spatial and temporal patterns described in ethnographic accounts of the crack epidemic. It explains much of the 1980s rise in Black youth homicide and more moderate increases in adverse birth outcomes. Although our index remains high through the 1990s, crack's deleterious social impact fades. Changes over time in behavior, crack markets, and the user population may have mitigated crack's damaging impacts.

JEL Classification: K42, J15, I30

Suggested Citation

Fryer, Roland G. and Heaton, Paul S. and Levitt, Steven D. and Murphy, Kevin M., Measuring Crack Cocaine and its Impact (July 2013). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 51, Issue 3, pp. 1651-1681, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2261575 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2012.00506.x

Roland G. Fryer (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Paul S. Heaton

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.law.upenn.edu/cf/faculty/pheaton/

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-1862 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Kevin M. Murphy

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
1
Abstract Views
724
PlumX Metrics