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Prescription Opioid Misuse and Property Crime


Social Science Quarterly

Published online on


["Social Science Quarterly, EarlyView. ", "\nAbstract\nWhile there is an extensive literature on the relationship between drug use and crime, research on crime stemming from the recent uptick in opioid misuse is surprisingly sparse, and much of it provides contradictory answers. Using state‐level data and dynamic panel techniques, we find evidence of a large, positive association between nonmedical use of pain relievers and property crime. The correlation is strongest for the youngest users, holds for multiple classes of property crime, and its magnitude suggests hundreds of thousands of excess property crimes over the study period resulting from even modest increases in opioid abuse. We also present evidence of a link between prescribing rates and crime. Evidence of a link between pain relievers and violent crime is much weaker, as is evidence of an association between other drugs and crime. Our use of robust panel inference helps to address endogeneity concerns that can arise in other studies, many of which also draw conclusions from small or nonrepresentative samples.\n"]