Research Publication Title

Does Government Spending Affect Drug-Related Crime Rates?

Presenter Information

Kendyl CampbellFollow

Major

Economics

Faculty Mentor

Brooke Conaway & Christopher Clark

Keywords

Drugs, Mass Incarceration, Government Spending, Crime, Arrests, Drug Policy, Federal Budget

Abstract

The United States Department of Justice estimates that the average state spends in excess of 50,000 of tax-payers dollars to fund one low-level, non-violent drug offender every year. Drug-related offenses are defined as violations of laws prohibiting or regulating the possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of illegal drugs as well as offenses in which a drug’s pharmacologic effects contribute to offenses motivated by the user’s need for money to support continued use. Utilizing an ordinary least squares model with state-level drug-related crime rates from the Department of Justice, which are defined as the number of people per 100,000 who are arrested for a drug-related crime, and also data from the State Budget Offices for spending on drug control, I am able to estimate the effect of government spending on drug-related crime rates. I define government spending as the dollar amount each state spends per year on combatting drug-related crime. In consensus with the findings in all of the previous literature, I find that the amount of money the federal government puts into drug prevention, enforcement, or treatment does not significantly affect the level of drug-related crime rates. My research is unique in that previous literature focus on social welfare outcomes like depression and overdose rates. My study analyzes the economic impact of these incarceration rates with respect to government spending, for example the unemployment rate and median income in states with high drug-related crime rates. Further, I strive to answer to the effectiveness of our nation’s current drug policies with my research.

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Does Government Spending Affect Drug-Related Crime Rates?

The United States Department of Justice estimates that the average state spends in excess of 50,000 of tax-payers dollars to fund one low-level, non-violent drug offender every year. Drug-related offenses are defined as violations of laws prohibiting or regulating the possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of illegal drugs as well as offenses in which a drug’s pharmacologic effects contribute to offenses motivated by the user’s need for money to support continued use. Utilizing an ordinary least squares model with state-level drug-related crime rates from the Department of Justice, which are defined as the number of people per 100,000 who are arrested for a drug-related crime, and also data from the State Budget Offices for spending on drug control, I am able to estimate the effect of government spending on drug-related crime rates. I define government spending as the dollar amount each state spends per year on combatting drug-related crime. In consensus with the findings in all of the previous literature, I find that the amount of money the federal government puts into drug prevention, enforcement, or treatment does not significantly affect the level of drug-related crime rates. My research is unique in that previous literature focus on social welfare outcomes like depression and overdose rates. My study analyzes the economic impact of these incarceration rates with respect to government spending, for example the unemployment rate and median income in states with high drug-related crime rates. Further, I strive to answer to the effectiveness of our nation’s current drug policies with my research.