West-East Convergence in the Prevalence of Illicit Drugs: Socioeconomics or Culture?
In contrast to West Germany, illicit drugs were virtually absent in East Germany until 1990. However, after the collapse of the former GDR, East Germany was expected to encounter a sharp increase in substance abuse. By analyzing individual data, we find that East Germany largely caught up with West Germany's ever-growing prevalence of cannabis use within a single decade. We decompose the westeast difference in prevalence rates into an explained and an unexplained part using a modified Blinder-Oaxaca procedure. This decomposition suggests that the observed convergence is only weakly related to socioeconomic characteristics and therefore remains mainly unexplained. That is, West and East Germans seem to have become more alike per se. We conclude that both parts of the country have converged in terms of the culture of cannabis consumption.