Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 149–184 | Cite as

Methodological Issues in the Social Cost of Gambling Studies

  • Douglas M. Walker


The appropriate way to classify and measure the “social costs” of gambling is a very important, unresolved methodological issue that has been addressed by Collins and Lapsley (2000); Thompson, Gazel, and Rickman (1999); and Walker and Barnett (1999), among others. What should be included and excluded from social cost studies continues to be a controversial issue, as illustrated in the literature and recent conferences. This paper is an attempt to explain the “economics” conception of social costs in accessible language. By using a simple economic model and everyday examples, it shows that the economics methodology is better than the other methodologies currently available. There are four specific goals of the paper: (1) Discuss the importance of the social cost methodological debate and the state of research in the area; (2) Explain the Walker–Barnett definition of social cost in the context of a simple production possibilities frontier and indifference curve model; (3) Use simple illustrative examples to show why many of the alleged social costs should not be classified as such; and (4) Suggest a new method for analyzing the social costs and effects attributable to pathological gambling.

social costs of gambling economic concepts of social cost economic analysis methodological issues social effects of pathological gambling 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas M. Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Economics Finance & MarketingGeorgia College & State UniversityMilledgeville

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