QSS scholars publish article on racial inequalities in drug policy

Three scholars associated with the Program in Quantitative Social Science at Dartmouth College recently published a paper in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. Their paper, titled "Treatment versus Punishment: Understanding Racial Inequalities in Drug Policy," analyzes racial inequalities in policy responses to the ongoing opioid crisis and the crack scare of the 1980s and 1990s. Many observers believe that policy responses to the opioid crisis are less punitive than those associated with the crack scare and that the reason is that victims of the former are (stereotypically) white. The study's authors compare policy responses to these twin health crisis and show that legislators across the United States have introduced more drug treatment-related bills during the opioid crisis than punitive bills.  This was not the case during the crack scare.  However, the study’s author show as well  that legislators seeking to response to the opioid crisis have been more responsive to white deaths than black deaths in their legislative activities. This result suggests that the recent shift toward treatment-oriented responses to the opioid crisis is driven by white victims, and it constitutes evidence that racial inequalities in American drug policy are persistent.

The study's authors are Jin Woo Kim, Evan Morgan, and Brendan Nyhan. Kim, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, was a post-doctoral fellow in QSS during 2017-19 and is currently working on research projects on how partisans respond to new information and the effects of political rumors on public opinion. Morgan graduated from Dartmouth with a degree in QSS in June 2019 and is currently working as a data engineer at Mastercard. Nyhan is Professor of Government at Dartmouth College and serves on the QSS Steering Committee.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019