Study: Opioid use linked to 20% of overall decline in male labor force

Opioid use may be attributable to 20 percent of the overall decline in men's participation in the U.S. workforce, according to a paper authored by Alan Krueger, PhD, an economics professor at Princeton (N.J.) University.

Dr. Krueger's paper analyzes the driving forces behind declining labor force participation numbers, which peaked in 2000. As a part of the study, Dr. Krueger compared survey data compiled by the National Bureau of Labor Statistics with county level prescribing rates compiled by the CDC over the last 15 years.

Analysis revealed 44 percent of working age men out of the labor force reported use of pain medication, nearly double the rate of pain medication usage among employed men.

"Labor force participation has fallen more in areas where relatively more opioid pain medication is prescribed, causing the problem of depressed labor force participation and the opioid crisis to become intertwined," wrote Dr. Krueger. 

More articles on opioids: 
3 quotes from Dr. Atul Gawande on the role of physicians in the opioid epidemic 
Heroin deaths surge more than 500% since 2002 
Sen. McCaskill to hold roundtable on deceptive opioid sales practices: 4 things to know

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