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David Price (University of Toronto) "The Effects of Layoffs on Opioid Use and Abuse" (joint with Marius Opstrup Morthorst and Peter Rønø Thingholm)

Fri, March 5, 2021, 3:00pm - 4:30pm via ZOOM

Mar 02, 2021

Host: Adam Lavecchia

For more information, email

Abstract: Use and abuse of opioids are becoming major problems in many countries around the world. There is speculation that their increase is driven by poor labour market conditions--for example, drug overdoses are categorized by some as "deaths of despair." If that is true, it is especially relevant now, in a period of high unemployment. However, there is little causal evidence to support that claim, and the evidence that does exist is mostly based on regional analyses that cannot distinguish direct effects on individuals from effects that act via peers, mobility, local public policy, or other mechanisms. In this research, we use Danish register data to examine the effect of mass layoffs on laid-off workers' use and abuse of opioids. Because mass layoffs are likely unrelated to any individual worker's propensity to use opioids, this strategy allows us to identify the causal effect of a labour market shock on opioid use and abuse. We find substantial effects on opioid use for laid-off individuals. Effects are not confined to the laid-off individual: their spouses also increase their use of opioids.