City Nuisance Property Ordinances and Drug Mortality


Ashley Bradford

Monday 18 Oct 2021, 17:30 - 18:30


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Nuisance property ordinances (NPO's) are municipal-level laws aimed at reducing police department burden by placing the responsibility of tenant actions on the landlord.

In general, this means that tenants who exhibit any behavior that the city has deemed to be a nuisance (such as calling 911 for emergency service, domestic abuse, or drug-related events) can be charged and subsequently evicted.

It is possible that NPOs may discourage tenants from calling 911 for assistance in a variety of situations, including those involving substance-use related emergencies. If this is the case, we might expect to see an increase in substance-use related mortality following the adoption of such a policy.

This study explores this hypothesis using mortality data from the National Center for Vital Statistics and policy data from the Policy Surveillance Program. I investigate the effect of NPO’s for the 40 most populous cities in the United States from 2000 to 2017.

Using a difference-in-difference approach, I find that implementation of these law is, in fact, associated with an increase in the morality rate associated with accidental opioid (including prescriptions opioids and heroin) and cocaine overdoses per 100,000 residents. The largest and most significant results were found for Black residents.

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  • Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir (University of Iceland)
  • Ana Inés Balsa (Universidad de Montevideo)
  • John Cawley (Cornell University)
  • Hans van Kippersluis (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

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