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The Downward Spiral
To analyze the opioid epidemic, we construct a model where individuals, with and without pain, choose whether to misuse opioids knowing the probabilities of addiction and dying. These odds are functions of opioid use. Markov chains are estimated from the US data for the college and non–college educated that summarize the transitions into and out of opioid addiction as well as to a deadly overdose. We construct a structural model that matches the estimated Markov chains. We also examine the epidemic’s drivers and the impact of medical interventions.
Spatial Commitment Devices and Addictive Goods: Evidence from the Removal of Slot Machines from Bars
Commitment device theory suggests that temptations to consume addictive goods could be reduced by the regulatory removal of geographically close environmental cues. We provide new evidence on this hypothesis using a quasi-natural experiment, in which gambling regulators removed slot machines from some, but not all, neighborhood bars. We find that the removal of slot machines reduced personal bankruptcies of close neighbors (within 100 meters) but not neighbors slightly farther away. This is consistent with the removal of neighborhood slots serving as an effective spatial commitment device, ...