Does Information Matter? The Effect of the Meth Project on Meth Use Among Youths
D. Mark Anderson
University of Washington - Economics
December 1, 2009
Are demand-side interventions effective at curbing drug use? To the extent demand-side programs are successful, their cost effectiveness can be appealing from a policy perspective. Established in 2005, the Montana Meth Project (MMP) employs a graphic advertising campaign aimed at deterring meth use among Montana's youth. Due to the apparent success of the MMP, seven other states have since adopted Meth Project campaigns that mirror the Montana model. Using data from the 1999-2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS), this paper investigates whether the MMP reduced self-reported methamphetamine use among Montana teens. Initial results show that reported rates of meth use were approximately 1.5 to 4 percentage points lower after the adoption of the MMP. However, the data suggests the reduction is an artifact of a preexisting downward trend. When accounting for this preexisting trend, effects on meth use become small and statistically insignificant. These results are robust to using the related changes of meth use among individuals in states without exposure to the campaign as controls in a difference-in-difference estimation strategy. These null findings are robust to examining the impact of the anti-meth campaign on use rates among select subsamples of the population and on youth who may have been exposed to the campaign more than others. Lastly, evidence does not support the selective recruitment hypothesis. That is, youth who were least likely to try meth in the first place were no less likely to try meth after the MMP was put into place. These findings suggest that other factors, such as increased policing efforts that preceded the MMP, are more likely to have contributed to the decrease in the use of methamphetamines.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: Methamphetamine use, Meth Project, Anti-drug campaigns, Youth
JEL Classification: H75, I18, K42, M37working papers series
Date posted: January 29, 2010
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