Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Unemployment and drug treatment

Costa Storti, Cláudia and Grauwe, Paul and Sabadash, Anna and Montanari, Linda (2011): Unemployment and drug treatment. Published in: International Journal of Drug Policy , Vol. 22, No. 5 (September 2011): pp. 366-373.

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Background: Since 2007 the economic recession has hit most industrial countries and this raises the question of how economic hardship affects illicit drug users’ decisions to enter drug treatment.

Methods: We test the hypothesis that an improvement in the employment prospects, as measured by a decline in unemployment, strengthens the intrinsic motivation of an unemployed drug user to enter treatment. Our hypothesis is that the “payoff” of entering treatment increases when the unemployed drug user has a greater probability of finding a job. We reviewed the literature and found considerable evidence to substantiate this effect. We tested the hypothesis econometrically using two different data sets, one EU-wide and one German data set.

Results: Our main findings were that unemployment has a significant negative effect on the number of drug users entering treatment, i.e. when unemployment declines (increases) the number of drug treatment clients increases (declines). We also found that unemployed drug users entering treatment are most sensitive to variations in the economy-wide unemployment rate. Employed drug users, in contrast, are not influenced by these variations when deciding to enter treatment.

Conclusion: Our empirical results confirm that the creation of job prospects adds significantly to the willingness of unemployed drug users to enter treatment. This lends support to the idea that drug treatment should be embedded in programmes to improve the job prospects of drug users.

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