Free DP Download 21 June 2022 - Substance Abuse during the Pandemic: Implications for Labor-Force Participation

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner, Karen A. Kopecky CEPR Discussion Paper No. 17137| March 2022

The labor-force participation rates of prime-age U.S. workers dropped in March 2020 - the start of the COVID-19 pandemic - and have still not fully recovered. At the same time, substance-abuse deaths were elevated during the pandemic relative to trend indicating an increase in the number of substance abusers, and abusers of opioids and crystal methamphetamine have lower labor-force participation rates than non-abusers. Could increased substance abuse during the pandemic be a factor contributing to the fall in labor-force participation? Estimates of the number of additional substance abusers during the pandemic presented here suggest that increased substance abuse accounts for between 9 and 26 percent of the decline in prime-age labor-force participation between February 2020 and June 2021.

You can now watch a video where Nezih Guner tells Tim Phillips about this research.