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The effect of medical marijuana laws on the health and labor supply of older adults: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

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  • Lauren Hersch Nicholas
  • Johanna Catherine Maclean

Abstract

Older adults have the highest rates of many health conditions for which medical marijuana may be effective in moderating symptoms and are at elevated risk of reducing labor supply due to poor health. Surprisingly little is known about how this group responds to medical marijuana laws. We provide the first estimates of the effects of state medical marijuana laws on the health and labor supply of adults age 51 and older, focusing on those with medical conditions that may respond to medical marijuana. We use longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study to study these questions using differences-in-differences regression models. Three principle findings emerge from our analysis. First, we document that medical marijuana law passage leads to reductions in chronic pain and improvements in self-assessed health among older adults. Second, we show that passage of a state medical marijuana law leads to increases in older adult labor supply, with effects concentrated on the intensive margin. Third, effects are largest among older adults with a health condition that would qualify for legal medical marijuana use under current state laws. Findings highlight the role of health policy in supporting work among older adults.

Suggested Citation

  • Lauren Hersch Nicholas & Johanna Catherine Maclean, 2016. "The effect of medical marijuana laws on the health and labor supply of older adults: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 22688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22688
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    3. Maclean, J. Catherine & Tello-Trillo, Sebastian & Webber, Douglas A., 2019. "Losing Insurance and Behavioral Health Hospitalizations: Evidence from a Large-Scale Medicaid Disenrollment," IZA Discussion Papers 12463, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Eric L. Sevigny & Rosalie L. Pacula & Ariel M. Aloe & Danye N. Medhin & Jared Greathouse, 2021. "PROTOCOL: The effects of cannabis liberalization laws on health, safety, and socioeconomic outcomes: An evidence and gap map," Campbell Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 17(1), March.
    5. Petrova, Olga & Gray, Natallia, 2021. "The effects of medical marijuana laws on birth outcomes: Evidence from early adopting U.S. states," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 68-82.
    6. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Lauren Hersch Nicholas & Keshar M. Ghimire, 2017. "The Impact of State Medical Marijuana Laws on Social Security Disability Insurance and Workers' Compensation Benefit Claiming," Working Papers id:12111, eSocialSciences.
    7. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Keshar M. Ghimire & Lauren Hersch Nicholas, 2017. "Marijuana legalization and disability claiming," NBER Working Papers 23862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Keshar M. Ghimire & Johanna Catherine Maclean, 2020. "Medical marijuana and workers' compensation claiming," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(4), pages 419-434, April.
    9. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Sebastian Tello-Trillo & Douglas Webber, 2019. "Losing insurance and behavioral health inpatient care: Evidence from a large-scale Medicaid disenrollment," NBER Working Papers 25936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Keshar M. Ghimire & Lauren Hersch Nicholas, 2021. "Marijuana legalization and disability claiming," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(2), pages 453-469, February.
    11. Chakraborty Avinandan & Doremus Jacqueline & Stith Sarah, 2021. "The effects of recreational cannabis access on labor markets: evidence from Colorado," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 10(1), pages 1-86, January.
    12. Anderson, D. Mark & Rees, Daniel I., 2021. "The Public Health Effects of Legalizing Marijuana," IZA Discussion Papers 14292, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Park, Sujeong & Powell, David, 2021. "Is the rise in illicit opioids affecting labor supply and disability claiming rates?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    14. Jonathan Gruber & Johanna Catherine Maclean & Bill Wright & Eric Wilkinson & Kevin G. Volpp, 2020. "The effect of increased cost‐sharing on low‐value service use," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(10), pages 1180-1201, October.
    15. Xiuming Dong & Justin Tyndall, 2021. "The Impact of Recreational Marijuana Dispensaries on Crime: Evidence from a Lottery Experiment," Working Papers 2021-1, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
    16. Shen, Yichen & Noguchi, Haruko, 2021. "Impacts of anticancer drug parity laws on mortality rates," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 272(C).

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    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General

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