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NCJ Number: 161632 Find in a Library
Title: (Continued) Vitality of Mythical Numbers
Journal: Public Interest  Volume:75  Dated:(Spring 1984)  Pages:135-147
Author(s): P Reuter
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 13
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The validity of common estimates of the numbers of heroin addicts, the amount of drug-related crime, and other statistics related to drug abuse and drug-related crime is critically examined and questioned, with emphasis on the reasons for mythical statistics and their role in policymaking.
Abstract: Common estimates of the numbers of heroin addicts and the numbers of crimes they commit reveal that the addict population seems to commit more of certain kinds of property crime than actually occurs. Thus, the estimated number of addicts is one of a category of mythical numbers that government agencies routinely produce. These numbers are generated that the demand that the government appear to know much more than it actually does. These estimates also receive little criticism due to two factors: the one-sided interest in keeping them high and their near irrelevance to policymaking. The formulas used to estimate the number of addicts, the price data, the estimates of property crimes committed by addicts, and the estimates of total income from illegal drug sales are all implausible. However, a large constituency exists for keeping the numbers high, whereas almost no constituency exists for keeping the numbers accurate. A second factor is the lack of any systematic scholarly interest in the issue. However, the most important factor is the lack of policy consequence of any of the numbers, although changes in the numbers have led to pressure for more funding for drug treatment or drug law enforcement. Overall, however, the actual size of the drug problem, which is perceived as big, is irrelevant to the government's response to it. Footnotes
Main Term(s): Drug abuse
Index Term(s): Data integrity; Drug Related Crime; Estimated crime incidence; Estimates; Estimating methods; Heroin; Research methods
Note: DCC
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