South African Crime Quarterly

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The wrong type of decline: Fluctuations in price and value of illegal substances in Cape Town

Simon Howell, Nadine Harker-Burnhams, Loraine Townsend, Mark Shaw


This article documents and contextualises fluctuations in the street-level prices and values of selected illegal substances over a 10-year period in Cape Town, South Africa, by drawing on recent empirical research and past reports. The contemporary prices are compared and contrasted with each other, as well as with those previously documented. We show that when adjusted for inflation, the value of these substances has decreased over the last decade, making them more affordable, even though their nominal prices have remained more stable. In beginning to provide explanations for these changes, we outline some of the mechanisms that shape the market and point to the primary structural drivers of substance use in the country.
AJOL African Journals Online