A Closer Look at How the Opioid Epidemic Affects Employment

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The toll that the opioid epidemic has taken on the United States is undeniable. On average, 115 Americans die every day from a drug overdose involving an opioid, and even more suffer the debilitating effects of addiction. Despite state and federal efforts to curb the crisis, there is no sign that the epidemic is letting up. Whichever way the data is sliced, things look bad and are getting worse.

Inevitably, the effects of this crisis touch multiple aspects of people’s lives: their families, their communities, and, of course, their workplaces. One narrative suggests that addiction leads to job loss and lower labor force participation. In fact, the OECD recently stated that the opioid epidemic is responsible for recent declines in labor force participation in the U.S. At first glance this claim would appear to be supported by the data: a study by Alan Krueger at Princeton

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