Archives for crack cocaine



How Crack Cocaine Widened the Black-White Education Gap

A new working paper (abstract; PDF) from William N. Evans, Timothy J. Moore, and Craig Garthwaite presents one explanation for the decline in black high-school graduation rates beginning in the 1980s:

We propose the rise of crack cocaine markets as an explanation for the end to the convergence in black-white educational outcomes beginning in the mid-1980s. After constructing a measure to date the arrival of crack markets in cities and states, we show large increases in murder and incarceration rates after these dates. Black high school graduation rates also decline, and we estimate that crack markets accounts for between 40 and 73 percent of the fall in black male high school graduation rates. We argue that the primary mechanism is reduced educational investments in response to decreased returns to schooling.

How did crack cocaine depress schooling returns? “Crack markets had three primary impacts on young black males: an increased probability of being murdered, an increased risk of incarceration, and a potential source of income,” explain the authors. “Each limits the benefits of education.”  In other words, high school looks less attractive when you’re more likely to end up dead or in jail, or earn money.

This finding echoes a passage from Freakonomics: Read More »



The FREAK-est Links

Is use v. non-use of social networking sites leading to “digital inequality”? (Earlier) Study finds crowds can be influenced by 5% minority. Incarceration rates for crack-cocaine users on the rise. (Earlier) Biofuels expert named among the “fastest growing” jobs of 2008. (Earlier) Read More »



Shorter Sentences for Crack Cocaine

A couple of years ago, we wrote a column about crack cocaine, which ended with a discussion of the federal sentencing guidelines for crack vs. powder cocaine: This disparity has often been called racist since it disproportionately imprisons blacks. In fact, the law probably made sense at the time, when a gram of crack did […] Read More »



Ask the Gang Guy: Q&A With Sudhir Venkatesh

Of all the stories we told in Freakonomics, the most popular was the section on the economics of crack cocaine. While it related a lot of particular facts about the crack trade, I believe that readers responded most vigorously to the daring and smarts of the researcher we wrote about, Sudhir Venkatesh, who went and […] Read More »



Hello Hal: A Note From Your Editor

Greetings, Freakonomics community! This is your friendly neighborhood web editor, Melissa. Starting today, while Steven and Stephen will continue to post the same high-brow discussions of crack dealing, cheating, gold-digging and online poker that have long graced this site, I’ll also be posting under the eponymous apple/orange. So keep sending your good ideas to levittdubner […] Read More »



How the Crack Dealer Became a Chef

Have you ever heard of Chef Jeff Henderson? Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t either. That’s when our publicist mentioned him and his new book. (We have the same publisher.) Jeff grew up in L.A. and San Diego, became a big-time crack dealer, and was sentenced to a long term in prison, where he […] Read More »



News and Notes From Canada

I’ve just returned from a quick trip to British Columbia (specifically to the ski town of Whistler, to which one can only properly say “wow”), and a couple of things from western Canada caught my eye. The first is this blog post about the use of urinalysis for construction job applicants in Alberta, where the […] Read More »



The New York Times examines why crime fell in New York City

In yesterday’s New York Times, Mike McIntyre writes about the reasons crime has fallen in New York City. Most of the article is about how Mayor Bloomberg claims credit for his police department. The article then goes on to say: Academic experts cite several plausible contributors to the nationwide trend, including an aging population (young […] Read More »