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Working Paper

Opioids and the Labor Market

This paper quantifies the relationship between local opioid prescription rates and labor market outcomes in the United States between 2006 and 2016. To understand this relationship at the national level, we assemble a data set that allows us both to include rural areas and to estimate the relationship at a disaggregated level. We control for geographic variation in both short-term and long-term economic conditions. In our preferred specification, a 10 percent higher local prescription rate is associated with a lower prime-age labor force participation rate of 0.53 percentage points for men and 0.10 percentage points for women. We focus on measuring the impact of opioid prescriptions on labor markets, so we evaluate the robustness of our estimates to an alternative causal path, unobserved selection, and an instrumental variable from the literature.

Working Papers of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland are preliminary materials circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment on research in progress. They may not have been subject to the formal editorial review accorded official Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland publications. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Federal Reserve System.

Suggested Citation

Aliprantis, Dionissi, Kyle D. Fee, and Mark E. Schweitzer. 2022. “Opioids and the Labor Market.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper No. 18-07R3.