We focus the bulk of our explanation on a theory: that demand increases endogenously due to spillovers in demand for opioids across people. [Here] spillovers are dynamics such as the spread of information about the substances, and ease and safety in ability to acquire the substances. We test for spillovers using county-level data on opioid deaths from 1991–2018 and opioid shipments from 2006–2009, combined with data on friendships and distance between counties. Estimating a model with addiction and spatial spillovers, we find large spillovers in opioid use and deaths across areas. A shock that increases opioid death rates by 1 in an index county causes 0.38 to 0.76 more deaths in other counties because of spillovers. Because opioids are addictive, this leads to even more deaths and spillovers in future years. In some specifications, these effects are large enough to generate a continuously increasing epidemic without any ongoing changes in demand or supply. We estimate spillovers explain 84 to 92% of opioid deaths from 1990 to 2018 and are the main reason deaths have increased for so long. In our preferred models, spillovers explain most opioid deaths since 1990 and are the main reason the epidemic has not burned out.
- Date Posted:
- January 24, 2024
Many Chinese are now talking about rùn. Chinese youths have in recent years appropriated this word in its English meaning to express a desire to flee. Over the three years of zero-Covid, after the state enforced protracted lockdowns, rùn evolved to mean emigrating from China altogether. One of the most incredible trends I’ve been watching this year is that rising numbers of Chinese nationals are being apprehended at the US-Mexico border. In January, US officers encountered around 1,000 Chinese at the southwest border; the numbers kept rising, and by November they encountered nearly 5,000. The Chinese who rùn to the American border are still a tiny set of the people who leave. Most emigrés are departing through legal means. People who can find a way to go to Europe or an Anglophone country would do so, but most are going, as best as I can tell, to three Asian countries. Those who have ambition and entrepreneurial energy are going to Singapore. Those who have money and means are going to Japan. And those who have none of these things — the slackers, the free spirits, kids who want to chill — are hanging out in Thailand.