NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Economic Conditions, Illicit Drug Use, and Substance Use Disorders in the United States

Christopher S. Carpenter, Chandler B. McClellan, Daniel I. Rees

NBER Working Paper No. 22051
Issued in February 2016
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

We provide the first analysis of the relationship between economic conditions and the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana. Drawing on US data from 2002-2013, we find mixed evidence with regard to the cyclicality of illicit drug use. However, there is strong evidence that economic downturns lead to increases in substance use disorders involving hallucinogens and prescription pain relievers. These effects are robust to a variety of specification choices and are concentrated among prime-age white males with low educational attainment. We conclude that the returns to spending on the treatment of substance use disorders are particularly high during economic downturns.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22051

Published: Carpenter, Christopher S. & McClellan, Chandler B. & Rees, Daniel I., 2017. "Economic conditions, illicit drug use, and substance use disorders in the United States," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 63-73. citation courtesy of

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