Assimilating European statistics on drug use and wealth (II)

My previous article took some aspects of drug incidence and a happy planet index in the hope of discerning trends and patterns with factors that can affect drug use. Whilst I had decided to use a more modern marker of European capability, why not have a stab at the more traditional, or still considered modern components, of achievement: money.

Once more I am using the statistical databases available from the EMCDDA (the European monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction) and eurostat; a statistical wing for the European commission. Whilst within that database I was able to find statistics for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for countries as determined by the Eurostat commissioned value of Purchasing Power Standard (PPS). I will be focusing on the full range of values available in 2010.

GDP stands for gross domestic product and is typically displayed in dollars. The acronym denotes the summated value of all market goods and services within a given time. This can be averages for regions, countries or continents and is a marker used traditionally to establish a hierarchy of wealth. GDP can obviously be influenced by the size of the economic region in question so is counteracted with GDP per capita (per head) to account for the average income. Being measured frequently, this value is used to denote the standard of living. However this does not account for personal income and is driven by the assumption that a rise in GDP will raise distribution amongst its populace. It is effective as a general indicator of standards of living in countries.

PPS stands for purchasing power standard and is an artificial monetary value that accounts for the differing economies and price ranges across countries. “Theoretically one PPS is able to acquire the same amounts of goods and services in each country”. In addition I have taken the value of minimum wage. This value is a demonstration of the range in wealth between residents however the numbers working on minimum wage is of a different matter but works as a good guideline.

GDP vs drug prevalence



Minimum wage vs drug prevalence


As with the previous article; the young adults consume more drugs than their older counterparts. Cannabis is the most popular drug in Europe, while cocaine averages around 2% and ecstacy being used by certain countries. Apparently growing old is the goal to being drug free.

The PPS per inhabitant display positive relationships for cannabis and cocaine but negative relationships for ecstacy. This equates that the more money someone has the more likely he/she takes cannabis (2% rise) or cocaine (0.5% rise). This is similarly mirrored between minimum wages of countries against cannabis (3-5% rise) and cocaine (1%) statistics. Cannabis and cocaine is for the richer Europeans, the poorer Europeans seemingly take less. Perhaps fewer worries for the rich mean more happy time with cannabis and cocaine.

Ecstacy however seemingly plateaus for minimum wage- apparently regardless of the minimum wage it has little to no effect on the rates of ecstacy use. GDP, on the other hand, show negative correlations; the less money Europeans earn the more ecstacy they are after and once more it is those pesky youths that are hoarding the supply?! The people at the higher end of the scale (30,000+ PPS per inhabitant) barely take the stuff- but then you wouldn’t when they are having all the cannabis and cocaine

Even so, there are many exceptions to the trends; outliers of drug taking that go against the trend. For example there are countries such as Czech Republic who despite having an intermediate GDP have large cannabis usage rates. Wealth it seems has some impact on drug use but not of a large scale.

Once more I got to stick this in, just in case no-one has smelled the sarcastic rhetoric within my article. Whilst I am fully aware the very basic premise of my charts and the flaws in making generalised assumptions, I hope that this serves to highlight the lack of information in drug use and the disparity in its accumulation among European states. For example, Turkey and Slovenia are non-existent with drug incidence statistics. The methods by which all these surveys are obtained and the transparency also varies- some reliable, others less so.

I am also aware that across Europe the structure of culture, infrastructure and economy are of varying degrees not just between countries but also within regions of countries themselves. Whilst all the statistics and values are from public agencies, the statistics themselves are obtained under questionable circumstances since they are all run under governmental agencies that may influence their readings in order to bend truths to their benefit. A lack of independent statistical work means politics can modify the results seen

Wealth is difficult to measure as the value of assets and the strengths in economies vary wildly. Whilst I can understand the efforts made on behalf of eurostat to standardise wealth amongst European countries via PPS, the fact that wealth distribution is difficult to ascertain as well as not accounting for disposable income, can’t be denied.


This article is part of a series. Please feel free to check my other articles:

[ Part I ]

[ Part III ]