2. From the jungle to the street: Country-level variation and demographic correlates of cocaine prices
Drug prices are traditionally understood as a function of enforcement and labor costs, and their variation across time and space is well-documented. Despite their relevance for policy and enforcement, global data on drug prices is sparse and of variable quality. We use a novel survey dataset to assess the country-level variation of cocaine prices and whether these vary across individual-level factors.
We use data from the Global Drug Survey 2017-2021 (n = 46,931), and apply multilevel regression to estimate prices. We nest observations in countries (n = 45) and years (n = 5), and allow quantity discounts to vary across these. At the individual level, we estimate prices across age, gender, urbanicity and drug source.
We find extensive country-level variation at the price of a gram and varying quantity discounts. Prices are lowest in Central and South American countries, and highest in Australia and New Zealand. Within the European Union prices reach their lowest around the Netherlands. At the individual level, our results suggest that young people in urban centers have access to cheaper cocaine. Moreover, we find prices are the lowest in street markets.
The study demonstrates the potential of using large-scale web surveys to assess drug prices at the international scale. We show that not only the price of a gram of cocaine varies among countries, but also the quantity discount. Our results also highlight groups which may be more at risk through lower prices. Disclosure of interest: This study was supported by a research grant from Aalborg University.