Badly needed

Kevin Lewis

February 14, 2019

Prescription Opioids and Labor Market Pains: The Effect of Schedule II Opioids on Labor Force Participation and Unemployment
Matthew Harris et al.
Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming

We examine the effect of prescription opioids on county labor market outcomes, using data from the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs of ten U.S. states and labor data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We achieve causal identification by exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in the concentration of high-volume prescribers as instruments (using Medicare Part D prescriber data). We find strong adverse effects on labor force participation rates, employment-to-population ratios, and unemployment rates. Notably, a 10 percent increase in prescriptions causes a 0.56 percentage point reduction in labor force participation, similar to the drop attributed to the 1984 liberalization of Disability Insurance.

The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Labor Market Outcomes
Joseph Sabia & Thanh Tam Nguyen
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2018, Pages 361-396

This study is the first to estimate the impact of state medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on labor market outcomes. First, using data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, we document that MMLs are associated with an increase in marijuana consumption among younger and older adult males, consistent with increases in use for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Then, using data from the Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Groups, we find no evidence that MMLs affect employment, hours, or wages among working-age adults, including among demographic groups whose marijuana consumption is most impacted by MMLs. Medical marijuana laws that provide access to open marijuana dispensaries only moderately depress wages among young men. We conclude that the labor market effects of MMLs are small.

A systematic study of microdosing psychedelics
Vince Polito & Richard Stevenson
PLoS ONE, February 2019

The phenomenon of ‘microdosing’, that is, regular ingestion of very small quantities of psychedelic substances, has seen a rapid explosion of popularity in recent years. Individuals who microdose report minimal acute effects from these substances yet claim a range of long-term general health and wellbeing benefits. There have been no published empirical studies of microdosing and the current legal and bureaucratic climate makes direct empirical investigation of the effects of psychedelics difficult. In Study One we conducted a systematic, observational investigation of individuals who microdose. We tracked the experiences of 98 microdosing participants, who provided daily ratings of psychological functioning over a six week period. 63 of these additionally completed a battery of psychometric measures tapping mood, attention, wellbeing, mystical experiences, personality, creativity, and sense of agency, at baseline and at completion of the study. Analyses of daily ratings revealed a general increase in reported psychological functioning across all measures on dosing days but limited evidence of residual effects on following days. Analyses of pre and post study measures revealed reductions in reported levels of depression and stress; lower levels of distractibility; increased absorption; and increased neuroticism. To better understand these findings, in Study Two we investigated pre-existing beliefs and expectations about the effects of microdosing in a sample of 263 naïve and experienced microdosers, so as to gauge expectancy bias. All participants believed that microdosing would have large and wide-ranging benefits in contrast to the limited outcomes reported by actual microdosers. Notably, the effects believed most likely to change were unrelated to the observed pattern of reported outcomes. The current results suggest that dose controlled empirical research on the impacts of microdosing on mental health and attentional capabilities are needed.

The price elasticity of quantity, and of quality, for tobacco products
John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim
Health Economics, forthcoming

We use household survey data to estimate the price elasticity of quantity, and of quality, for tobacco products. In our data, commonly used estimation methods suggest an own‐price elasticity of demand of about −1. These methods add together responses on the quantity margin and the quality margin. Just one third of the response to price is from quantity and two thirds is from quality. The simulated effect of higher excise taxes is to reduce overall quantity by just one third of what is predicted if the quality response is ignored. Higher taxes also shift demand to lower quality tobacco products.

An experimental examination of the effects of alcohol consumption and exposure to misleading post event information on remembering a hypothetical rape scenario
Heather Flowe et al.
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

We experimentally examined the effects of alcohol consumption and exposure to misleading post event information on memory for a hypothetical interactive rape scenario. We used a 2 beverage (alcohol versus tonic water) x 2 expectancy (told alcohol versus told tonic) factorial design. Participants (N = 80) were randomly assigned to conditions. They consumed alcohol (mean BAC = .06%) or tonic water before engaging in the scenario. Alcohol expectancy was controlled by telling participants they were consuming alcohol or tonic water alone, irrespective of the actual beverage they were consuming. Approximately a week later, participants were exposed to a misleading post event narrative and then recalled the scenario and took a recognition test. Participants who were told that they had consumed alcohol rather than tonic reported fewer correct details; but, they were no more likely to report incorrect or misleading information. The confidence‐accuracy relationship for control and misled items was similar across groups, and there was some evidence that metacognitive discrimination was better for participants who were told that they had consumed alcohol compared to those told they had tonic water. Implications for interviewing rape victims are discussed.

Limiting Alcohol Outlet Density to Prevent Alcohol Use and Violence? Estimating Policy Interventions Through Agent-Based Modeling
Alvaro Castillo-Carniglia et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Increasing alcohol outlet density is well-documented to be associated with increased alcohol use and problems, leading to the policy recommendation that limiting outlet density will decrease alcohol problems. Yet few studies of decreasing problematic outlets and outlet density have been conducted. We estimated the association between closing alcohol outlets and alcohol use and alcohol-related violence, using an agent-based model of the adult population in New York City. The model was calibrated according to the empirical distribution of the parameters across the city's population, including the density of on- and off-premise alcohol outlets. Interventions capped the alcohol outlet distribution at the 90th up to the 50th percentiles of the New York City density, and closed 5% to the 25% of outlets with the highest levels of violence. Capping density led to a lower population of light drinkers (42.2% at baseline vs. 38.1% at the 50th percentile), while heavy drinking increased slightly (12.0% at baseline vs. 12.5% at the 50th percentile). Alcohol-related homicides and non-fatal violence remained unchanged. Closing violent outlets was not associated with changes in alcohol use or related problems. Results suggest that focusing solely on closing alcohol outlets may not be an effective strategy to reduce alcohol-related problems.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment Centers and Property Values
Brady Horn, Aakrit Joshi & Johanna Catherine Maclean
NBER Working Paper, January 2019

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a major social concern in the United States and other developed countries. There is an extensive economic literature estimating the social costs associated with SUDs in terms of healthcare, labor market outcomes, crime, traffic accidents, and so forth. However, beyond anecdotal claims that SUD treatment centers (SUDTCs), settings in which patients receive care for their SUDs, have a negative effect on property values, there is scant empirical work on this question. In this paper, we investigate the effect of SUDTCs on residential property values using data from Seattle, Washington, and SUDTC location, entry, and exit information. To mitigate bias from the potential endogeneity of SUDTC location choices, we apply a spatial differences-in-differences (SDD) model, which uses property and SUDTC location to construct treatment and comparison groups. Our findings suggest that SUDTCs endogenously locate in lower value areas, and naïve models imply that the entry of an SUDTC leads to a 3.4% to 4.6% reduction in property values. When an SDD model is applied, we find no evidence that SUDTCs affect property values. Overall, our findings suggest anecdotal claims that SUDTCs reduce property values are potentially overstated.

Prevention of alcohol use in older teens: A randomized trial of an online family prevention program
Hilary Byrnes et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, February 2019, Pages 1-14

This study examines effects of a randomized controlled trial for an online, family-based prevention program for older teens, Smart Choices 4 Teens, on alcohol use and related outcomes. Families (N = 411; teen age M = 16.4, SD = 0.5) were randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition in 2014–2015. Both intent to treat (ITT) and dosage models were conducted. ITT models: At the 6-month follow-up, teens in the experimental condition reported fewer friends who had been drunk, and parents in the experimental group reported more communication about social host laws. At the 12-month follow-up, parents in the experimental condition reported consuming fewer drinks than parents in the control group. Dosage models: At the 6-month follow-up, dosage was inversely related to teen drinking in the past 6 months or 30 days, frequency of teen drinking during the past 6 months and 30 days, drinks consumed by teens over the past 6 months, teen drunkenness and binge-drinking during the past 30 days, teen reported communication about safe drinking and positively related to parent and teen reported communication about social host laws. At 12 months, dosage was inversely related to teen alcohol use, frequency of teen drinking over the past 30 days, drinks consumed by teens over the past 6 months and 30 days, and teen drunkenness over the past 6 months. Results suggest that Smart Choices 4 Teens is beneficial for families. Dissemination and implementation strategies that motivate completion of program content will improve outcomes related to older teens’ alcohol use.

Driving under the influence of cannabis among medical cannabis patients with chronic pain
Erin Bonar et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, February 2019, Pages 193-197

Methods: Adults (N = 790) seeking medical cannabis certification or recertification for moderate/severe pain were recruited from February 2014 through June 2015 at Michigan medical cannabis clinics. About half of participants were male (52%) and 81% were White; their Mean age was 45.8 years. Participants completed survey measures of DUIC (driving within 2 h of use, driving while “a little high,” and driving while “very high”) and background factors (demographics, alcohol use, etc.). Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regressions were used to examine correlates of DUIC.

Results: For the past 6 months, DUIC within 2 h of use was reported by 56.4% of the sample, DUIC while a “little high” was reported by 50.5%, and “very high” was reported by 21.1%. Greater cannabis quantity consumed and binge drinking were generally associated with DUIC behaviors. Higher pain was associated with lower likelihood of DUIC. Findings vary somewhat across DUIC measures.

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