Taking Drugs or Having a Few Drags? Evidence of Rising Rates of Inhalant Use Among European Adolescents during the Economic Crisis

Nicoletta Balbo, Bocconi University
Piergiorgio Carapella, Catholic University of Milan

This paper investigates the effect of economic downturns on substance use among European adolescents. Using the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), which provides us with information on substance use among 14-15 years old adolescents in 26 European countries, we examine whether the Great Recession has had an impact on the lifetime use of ecstasy, cocaine and inhalants among young people.
Two main alternative mechanisms might be at work: income effect, according to which during financial hardship people are less likely to spend many on substances, and psychological distress effect, which suggests that people cope with uncertainty by using more substances. By engaging in descriptive analyses and a series of logistic regression models, with geographical region fixed effects, we find that ecstasy and cocaine use seem to decrease during the financial crisis, whereas inhalants use increases. Being inhalants very cheap substances that can be found in every households, such as solvents and aerosols, their rising use might be due to both income effect, which would suggest people turning to cheaper substances, and psychological distress effect, that would increases adolescents use of mind-altering drugs.

Presented in Poster Session 2