Discussion paper

DP14236 The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Firm Value and Investment

High rates of opioid abuse have had a significant impact on the United States including implications for firms which must now contend with a lower pool of available and productive workers. This paper documents a negative effect of instrumented opioid prescriptions and subsequent individual employment outcomes. In turn, this impacts firms as we show a negative relationship between opioid prescriptions and subsequent firm growth. We also show that firms respond to the labor shortage by investing more in technology, substituting capital for labor to mitigate some of the costs otherwise expected due to the decline in labor supply. Moreover, we establish a causal link between opioids and firm values using the staggered passage of state laws intended to limit opioid prescriptions. Following the passage of these laws, we find a 40 basis point
increase in the cumulative abnormal return of the average firm and a 70 basis point increase for firms that are less capital intensive pre-treatment and thus more dependent on labor inputs.


Ouimet, P, E Simintzi and K Ye (2019), ‘DP14236 The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Firm Value and Investment‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14236. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14236