• Labelled drug-related public expenditure in relation to gross domestic product (GDP) in Europe: a luxury good?

      Prieto, Luis; Interventions, Law and Policies Unit, European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addictions (EMCDDA), Cais do Sodré, 1249-289 Lisbon, Portugal. luis.prieto@lshtm.ac.uk (2010)
      "Labelled drug-related public expenditure" is the direct expenditure explicitly labelled as related to illicit drugs by the general government of the state. As part of the reporting exercise corresponding to 2005, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction's network of national focal points set up in the 27 European Union (EU) Member States, Norway, and the candidates countries to the EU, were requested to identify labelled drug-related public expenditure, at the country level. This was reported by 10 countries categorised according to the functions of government, amounting to a total of EUR 2.17 billion. Overall, the highest proportion of this total came within the government functions of Health (66%), and Public Order and Safety (POS) (20%). By country, the average share of GDP was 0.023% for Health, and 0.013% for POS. However, these shares varied considerably across countries, ranging from 0.00033% in Slovakia, up to 0.053% of GDP in Ireland in the case of Health, and from 0.003% in Portugal, to 0.02% in the UK, in the case of POS; almost a 161-fold difference between the highest and the lowest countries for Health, and a 6-fold difference for POS. Why do Ireland and the UK spend so much in Health and POS, or Slovakia and Portugal so little, in GDP terms? To respond to this question and to make a comprehensive assessment of drug-related public expenditure across countries, this study compared Health and POS spending and GDP in the 10 reporting countries. Results found suggest GDP to be a major determinant of the Health and POS drug-related public expenditures of a country. Labelled drug-related public expenditure showed a positive association with the GDP across the countries considered: r = 0.81 in the case of Health, and r = 0.91 for POS. The percentage change in Health and POS expenditures due to a one percent increase in GDP (the income elasticity of demand) was estimated to be 1.78% and 1.23% respectively. Being highly income elastic, Health and POS expenditures can be considered luxury goods; as a nation becomes wealthier it openly spends proportionately more on drug-related health and public order and safety interventions.