Kevin Lewis

January 30, 2021

Etiological Overlap Between Sex Under the Influence and Number of Lifetime Sexual Partners
Brooke Huibregtse et al.
Behavior Genetics, January 2021, Pages 12–29


Drug and alcohol use is associated with risky sexual behavior (RSB). It is unclear whether this association is due to correlated liabilities (e.g., third variables influencing both traits), or whether use of drugs and alcohol during sexual decision making increases RSB. This study addresses this question by fitting a series of biometrical models using over 800 twin pairs assessed in early adulthood (m = 25.21 years). Measures included an index of sex under the influence (e.g., frequency that drugs or alcohol affect sexual decision making), number of lifetime sexual partners, and a general measure of substance use. Analyses suggest the covariance among these measures is explained by both genetic and environmental correlated liabilities. The overlap was not specific to sex under the influence, but was shared with a measure of general substance use. Models testing necessary but not sufficient parameters for direction of causation suggest that sex under the influence is unlikely to cause an increase in RSB; more evidence for reverse causation was found.

The Effect of Recreational Gambling on Health and Well-Being
Brad Humphreys, John Nyman & Jane Ruseski
Eastern Economic Journal, January 2021, Pages 29–75


The relationship between gambling and health has important economic and public policy implications. We develop causal evidence on this relationship exploiting regional variation in access to legal gambling. Empirical models treat gambling as an endogenous regressor in explaining variation in health outcomes. Results from instrumental variable and bivariate probit models show recreational gambling has no or a negative impact on the probability of having certain chronic health conditions and a positive impact on life satisfaction. Past research generally found a positive association between problem gambling and adverse health outcomes. The generation of some positive health benefits provides important context for the expansion of legal sports betting in the USA following the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018.

Impact of an unsanctioned safe consumption site on criminal activity, 2010–2019
Peter Davidson et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Health and social impacts of safe consumption sites (SCS) are well described in multiple countries. One argument used by those opposed to SCS in the US is that findings from other countries are not relevant to the US context. We examined whether an unsanctioned SCS operating in the US affected local crime rates.

Methods: Controlled interrupted time series (ITS) analysis of police incident reports for five years before and five years after SCS opening, comparing one intervention and two control areas in one city.

Results: Narcotic/drug incidents declined across the pre- and post-intervention periods in the intervention area and remained constant in both control areas, preventing an ITS analysis but suggesting no negative impact. On average, incident reports relating to assault, burglary, larceny theft, and robbery in the post-intervention period steadily decreased at a similar rate within both the Intervention area and Control area 1. However the change in rate of decline post-intervention was statistically significantly greater in the Intervention area compared to Control area 1 (difference in slope -0.007 SDs, 95% CI: -0.013, -0.002; p = 0.01). The Intervention area had a statistically significant decline in crime over the post-intervention period compared to Control area 2 (difference in slope -0.023 SDs, 95% CI: -0.03, -0.01; p < 0.001).

Frequency of Recent Binge Drinking Is Associated With Sex-Specific Cognitive Deficits: Evidence for Condition-Dependent Trait Expression in Humans
Liana Hone et al.
Evolutionary Psychology, October 2020


Evolutionary theory suggests that commonly found sex differences are largest in healthy populations and smaller in populations that have been exposed to stressors. We tested this idea in the context of men’s typical advantage (vs. women) in visuospatial abilities (e.g., mental rotation) and women’s typical advantage (vs. men) in social-cognitive (e.g., facial-expression decoding) abilities, as related to frequent binge drinking. Four hundred nineteen undergraduates classified as frequent or infrequent binge drinkers were assessed in these domains. Trial-level multilevel models were used to test a priori Sex × Group (binge drinking) interactions for visuospatial and social-cognitive tasks. Among infrequent binge drinkers, men’s typical advantage in visuospatial abilities and women’s typical advantage in social-cognitive abilities was confirmed. Among frequent binge drinkers, men’s advantage was reduced for one visuospatial task (Δ d = 0.29) and eliminated for another (Δ d = 0.75), and women’s advantage on the social-cognitive task was eliminated (Δ d = 0.12). Males who frequently engaged in extreme binges had exaggerated deficits on one of the visuospatial tasks, as did their female counterparts on the social-cognitive task. The results suggest sex-specific vulnerabilities associated with recent, frequent binge drinking, and support an evolutionary approach to the study of these vulnerabilities.

Prescription drug monitoring programs, opioid abuse, and crime
Dhaval Dave, Monica Deza & Brady Horn
Southern Economic Journal, January 2021, Pages 808-848


We study the effects of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) on crime, and inform how policies that restrict access to Rx opioids per se within the healthcare system would impact broader non‐health domains. In response to the substantial increase in opioid use and misuse in the United States, PDMPs have been implemented in virtually all states to collect, monitor, and analyze prescription opioid data with the goal of preventing its misuse and diversion. Using a differences‐in‐differences approach and data on offenses known to law enforcement from the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), we find that mandatory access PDMPs reduced overall crime by 5%, particularly driven by assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft. Overall, these results provide evidence that appropriately designed PDMPs are an effective social policy tool to mitigate some of the negative consequences of opioid misuse, and more broadly indicate that opioid policies can have important spillover effects into crime.


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