Rational Actors

Special thanks to Rene the Rugrat for tipping Econo-Girl off about the following paper. Cite at bottom.

Econo-Girl is interested in the quotes of a drug-dealer in terms of practical economics:

“Would you stand around here when all this s— [shooting] is going on? No, right? So if I gonna be asked to put my life on the line, then front me the cash, man. Pay me more‘cause it ain’t worth my time to be here when [the gangs are] warring.” Econo-Girl can just see the street economist trying to break it down so the egghead understands.

“Ain’t no way nobody gonna come ‘round here looking for their rock [crack] if they know they gonna get shot. People got too many options, man, they got too many n------that they can buy they s— from, so why come to us if we can’t keep s— safe for ‘em?”

“You think I wanta be selling drugs on the street my whole life? No way. But I know these n------ [above me] are making more money, and it’s like, people don’t last longdoing this s—. So you know, I figure I got a chance to move up. But if not, s—, I get me a job doin’ something else.”

The cost/benefit analysis is sad. They don't value living enough to stay clear of drug dealing altogether. They accept the risk of death to make a little more money. And what this article shows is only a little more money and the chance for a lot more is what people deal drugs for.

"It's a war out here, man. I mean everyday people struggling to survive, so you know, we just do what we can. We ain't got no choice, and if that means getting killed, well s---, it’s what n------ do around here to feed their family."

All these excerpts were from An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances
by Steven D. Levitt & Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh
NBER Working Paper SeriesWorking Paper 6592

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