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Illicit Drug Use, Employment, and Labor Force Participation


  • Michael T. French

    () (University of Miami , Department of Epidemiology and Public Health)

  • M. Christopher Roebuck

    (Health Services Research Center and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami)

  • Pierre Kébreau Alexandre

    (Health Services Research Center and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami)


Illicit drug use has declined among the U.S. adult population, but national surveys show the majority of illicit drug users are employed. Concern about workplace productivity, absenteeism, and safety has led many employers to establish employee assistance and drug testing programs. Given the sharp interest in workplace interventions, more information is needed about the relationships between drug use and labor market status. This study estimated the probability of employment and labor force participation for different types of drug users using nationally representative data from the 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Results strongly indicated that chronic drug use was significantly related (negative) to employment for both genders and labor force participation for males. Furthermore, nonchronic drug use was not significantly related to employment or labor force participation. These findings suggest that workplace policies for illicit drug use should consider chronic or problem drug users apart from light or casual users.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael T. French & M. Christopher Roebuck & Pierre Kébreau Alexandre, 2001. "Illicit Drug Use, Employment, and Labor Force Participation," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 349-368, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:68:2:y:2001:p:349-368

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    Cited by:

    1. Brendan Saloner & Yaa Akosa Antwi & Johanna Catherine Maclean & Benjamin Lê Cook, 2015. "Access to health insurance and utilization of public sector substance use treatment: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act dependent coverage provision," DETU Working Papers 1509, Department of Economics, Temple University.
    2. Jan C. van Ours, 2006. "Cannabis, cocaine and jobs," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(7), pages 897-917.
    3. Roebuck, M. Christopher & French, Michael T. & Dennis, Michael L., 2004. "Adolescent marijuana use and school attendance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 133-141, April.
    4. Richardson, Lindsey & Wood, Evan & Kerr, Thomas, 2013. "The impact of social, structural and physical environmental factors on transitions into employment among people who inject drugs," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 126-133.
    5. Edward M. Shepard & Paul R. Blackely, 2010. "Economics of Crime and Drugs: Prohibition and Public Policies for Illicit Drug Control," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Douglas A. Webber & Michael T. French & Susan L. Ettner, 2015. "The Health Consequences of Adverse Labor Market Events: Evidence from Panel Data," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 478-498, July.
    7. Costa Storti, Cláudia & Grauwe, Paul & Sabadash, Anna & Montanari, Linda, 2011. "Unemployment and drug treatment," MPRA Paper 61799, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Terza, Joseph V. & Basu, Anirban & Rathouz, Paul J., 2008. "Two-stage residual inclusion estimation: Addressing endogeneity in health econometric modeling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 531-543, May.
    9. Sabia, Joseph J. & Nguyen, Thanh Tam, 2016. "The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 9831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Rosa Duarte & José Escario & José Molina, 2005. "Participation and Consumption of Illegal Drugs among Adolescents," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 11(4), pages 399-415, November.
    11. Pierre Kébreau Alexandre & Michael T. French, 2004. "Further Evidence on the Labor Market Effects of Addiction: Chronic Drug Use and Employment in Metropolitan Miami," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(3), pages 382-393, July.

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