“Why did America become so addicted to opioids?
That question is at the heart of University of Virginia economist Christopher Ruhm’s research on opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2015. What he found sheds new light on what has been characterized in the media as a mostly economic problem – so-called “deaths of despair,” driven by economic downturns in certain parts of the country like the Rust Belt or Appalachia.
Ruhm, a professor of public policy and economics in UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, tracked fatal overdoses at the county level across the country and compared those rates with economic factors like labor market conditions, income levels, housing prices and international trade exposure in each county.
His research – currently a working paper – concludes that economic conditions account for less than 10 percent of drug-related fatalities, which have increased by more than 210 percent from 1999 to 2015.
“It was less than 10 percent; possibly much less given the presence of other factors,” Ruhm said.”
Source: MedicalXpress.com – January 28, 2018