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“Unequal opportunity”: neighbourhood disadvantage and the chance to buy illegal drugs


Study objectives: This study investigates whether subgroups of people living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods may be more likely to come into contact with drug dealers as compared with persons living in more advantaged areas, with due attention to male-female and race-ethnicity differences.

Design: Standardised survey data collected using stratified, multistage area probability sampling.

Setting: United States of America, 1998.

Participants: Nationally representative sample of household residents age 12 or older (n = 25 500).

Main results: Evidence supports an inference that women are less likely to be approached by someone selling illegal drugs. The study found no more than modest and generally null racial and ethnicity differences, even for residents living within socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods, where chances to buy illegal drugs are found to be more common.

Conclusions: Limitations of survey data always merit attention, but this study evidence lends support to the inference that physical and social characteristics of a neighbourhood can set the stage for opportunities to become involved with drugs.

  • neighbourhoods
  • opportunity
  • women
  • drugs

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