Drug Abuse and The Internet: Evidence from Craigslist

20 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2018 Last revised: 23 Sep 2019

See all articles by Jiayi Liu

Jiayi Liu

Emory University, Goizueta Business School

Anandhi Bharadwaj

Emory University - Goizueta Business School

Date Written: July 23, 2019

Abstract

The United States is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic. While the online availability of drugs has been a growing concern with considerable speculation that digital platforms are contributing to this epidemic, empirical assessments have been lacking. To quantify this impact, we rely on the phased rollout of Craigslist, a major online platform, as an experimental setup. Applying a difference-in-differences approach on a national panel data set for all counties in the United States from 1997 to 2008, we find a 14.9% increase in drug abuse treatment admissions, a 5.7% increase in drug abuse violations, and a 6.0% increase in drug overdose deaths after Craigslist's entry. The impacts of Craigslist entry are larger among women, whites, Asians, and the more educated. Further, the unintended consequences of Craigslist are more likely to accrue in larger, wealthier areas with initially low levels of drug abuse. These findings raise the possibility that the marked growth in the U.S. drug abuse may have partially stemmed from the wider availability of illicit drugs online at the very beginning of its evolution.

Keywords: Public Health, Internet Platforms, Drug Abuse, Opioids, Natural Experiment

Suggested Citation

Liu, Jiayi and Bharadwaj, Anandhi, Drug Abuse and The Internet: Evidence from Craigslist (July 23, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3295942 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3295942

Jiayi Liu

Emory University, Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States

Anandhi Bharadwaj (Contact Author)

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States

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