This is Your Economy on Drugs

Yesterday, I looked at the relationship between drug use and politics. We saw that states that voted for Obama had higher levels of marijuana and cocaine use than those that voted for McCain. But perhaps economic factors lie behind those political trends. We know that Obama drew from less affluent minority voters and also from more well-educated, creative class voters. Perhaps the associations between drug use and voting patterns reflect deeper economic patterns.

The conventional wisdom is that economic hardship is a key factor in drug use. Anyone who watches crime shows like The Wire gets this picture really fast.

To get a first approximation of this, we examined the relationship between drug use and unemployment. Not surprisingly, the use of illegal drugs is correlated with state unemployment (.31). And the correlations are even a bit higher when we look at marijuana (.36) and cocaine use (.36).

Correlation coefficient: 0.31*

But things get more interesting when we look at the relationship between drug use and economic development. While there is no relationship between economic output and illegal drug use overall, there is a significant relationship between state economic output and marijuana, and an even stronger correlation between economic output and cocaine use, as the charts below show.

Correlation coefficient: 0.31*

Correlation coefficient:  0.61**

But there's more to the story. Tomorrow, I will turn to the relationship between drug use and the class structure of state economies.

Note: * indicates statistical significance at the .05 level; ** indicates significance at the .01 level.

Presented by

Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Who's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in National

From This Author

Just In